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With 27 disciplines across more than a thousand employees, Allied Health at Austin Health has an important role in our community.
Having increased, adapted, or postponed many of its services due to COVID, in a show of true collaboration the teams have also stepped in to help other departments wherever possible.
We checked in with some of our Allied Health teams providing much needed support in our COVID response.
The Sleep and Respiratory Sciences department has recently introduced a new team of respiratory scientists to perform our N95 fit testing for employees. The team of five has been run off its feet since starting in August.
“In September alone the team completed 1,100 fit tests, and there is no sign of this slowing down soon, while we get everyone in their PPE,” Respiratory Scientist Danny Brazzale says.
In addition, the Respiratory Sciences team has been performing breathing tests on patients who have recovered from COVID-19, particularly those who have been very unwell and in hospital.
“Although most people seem to recover from a respiratory point of view, there is a proportion of people who have ongoing respiratory function abnormalities. This seems to be more common in those people that had more severe disease requiring higher level hospital care,” Danny says.
Our Social Workers have played a critical role in the care and support of both COVID patients and their families. The team is seeing an increasing number of situations where multiple family members have been admitted to our hospital, which places additional distress and impact on the family system.
“We have been faced with increasing psychosocial complexity in our patients, and situations of needing to arrange care and support for children who are at home where both their parents are in hospital,” Senior Social Worker, Nicola Hainsworth, explains.
“Our COVID social workers have become extremely knowledgeable in the resources available to support COVID patients and their families.”
The team has developed targeted psychosocial screening tools for our COVID patients in conjunction with psychology and spiritual care, which they are currently implementing in our COVID wards.
Radiographers often contribute to the journey of some of our most acutely unwell patients. Currently, this includes providing a diverse range of imaging services to a large volume of COVID and suspected COVID patients 24/7 in conjunction with ED, ICU, theatre and COVID wards.
And like most others, our Radiography team has adapted its practices for a COVID-safe setting through problem solving, team work, ingenuity and hard work.
“In some instances, what once took one radiographer, now takes two, and the team now performs a larger volume of mobile imaging to patients in isolation rooms and wards,” Chief Radiographer Brett Saward says.
“In fact, radiographers currently perform over 70 mobile chest x-rays per day at Austin Campus bedsides alone.”
Thursday 14 October is World Allied Health Professionals Day – acknowledging the important role they play in physical and mental recovery for COVID-19 survivors. Our leaders have shared a message of acknowledgement and gratitude for all the work the team does.