Life on the ward:

Three health workers responsible for keeping St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney up and running during the pandemic share the stories that are hidden from the public.

Chris Robinson, Executive Director for Innovation and Improvement

Covid to me … I could call it kind of … the ideal job if you will because if your job is about changing and improving things, you have to change more than you ever have to because of a pandemic can imagine.

During the Covid phase, we switched to the rapid expansion of our virtual care services, so that we quickly moved from (focusing on) the inpatient hospital to care outside the hospital departments – something that we will be transferring to our other services. My role also oversaw the design and development of our pandemic stations – a change in the way we care for patients from a medical and nursing perspective.

The other element for me was planning the recovery for the organization. What if we have so many patients in the ward? What if we get around this time of the pandemic? We had to build flexible models that we developed and tried and tested at the same time.

In a way, we were very lucky because we got that first surge in Covid in March 2020 and that … raised more questions than answers. But it did mean we started moving things towards what, fast-forwarding, would have positioned us well by 2021 to respond when huge numbers of Covid patients came through.

Safety officer Chris Yang says his department has felt pressure from both families and workplaces during the Covid pandemic. Foto: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Chris Yang, security officer

During the Delta Covid wave, security had a couple of big check boxes. The first was to set up and maintain a secure passport for moving Covid patients and coordinate with various departments to ensure the process was efficient and disciplined.

The second big check box was responding to code blacks and other emergencies in high risk areas like Covid stations; Protecting staff and maintaining patient and visitor safety. The third was to assist the screening teams during rounds to ensure that everyone, including staff, admitted to the hospital was in a safe condition.

What I experienced during the pandemic was extremely difficult for us and certainly busy. My department is under pressure from different departments, from families and from the workplace.

My wife also works on the front lines, we have three young children, they stay home and study at home. So we deal with Covid patients every single shift and worry about bringing the virus home. We need to be extra careful at work and after work.

PSA and supply manager Henry Davoodifar says he would not have survived the outbreak without the help of his team. Foto: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Henry Davoodifar, PPE and Supply Manager

I’ve been in this organization for 35 years, I’ve been in the warehouse and inventory all my life.

It’s a challenging job, but… every day you see different people, you have a different problem and you have to deal with it.

When the pandemic started, the first wave, everyone was surprised because we didn’t know how to deal with it. When the second wave came we were better prepared … but we had problems in my department; Employees were seriously ill … and spent a lot of time in the hospital. My staff lifted up their sleeves and helped me and everyone in the hospital. Without the help of my team, I would not have made it through.

The warehouse supplied the entire hospital with PPE and clinical supplies … At first we focused on PPE, which was very difficult to come by. When we somehow got these products, we had to distribute them all over the hospital. It was a challenge because we were in a race with other hospitals for the products, because the consumption was high and … the stations needed products. The happy moments were when you get the call from the station manager who only calls to say thank you, or when he comes down and hands you a box of chocolates … I really appreciate that. You see what we’re going through.

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