The following is a snapshot of thoughts from our members at Byron Central Hospital.
We are so fortunate to have such dedicated staff and the incredible support of their families during COVID-19. Working in COVID-19 has meant an upsurge in workload and a noticeable increase in anxiety for many of our co-workers. The focus has been on developing and implementing new service delivery models and some programs being ceased altogether for now. Group programs that now require individual follow-up contact instead of as a group has been less time efficient.
Continuing to support our youngest clients and their families through tele health has been challenging at times, but ultimately very rewarding, and at times a lot of fun. We have been forced to learn creative ways of working which could have positive benefits well beyond these strange and scary times. Other services such as Health Promotion have been ‘closed’ and have ceased all of our population-based preventative health programs; falls prevention, obesity prevention, Get Healthy in Pregnancy, tobacco control.
The entire health promotion team has either been redeployed, or is still waiting to be redeployed. Similarly dental staff have been affected and redeployment is occurring. Some redeployments match skills, others do not. So this has certainly had a great impact on staff and we are no longer delivering preventative health to our populations at a time when information and support around smoking, alcohol, diet and physical activity is incredibly important. Re developing reduced client loads initially became complex as the result of school closure, lack of GP referral , social isolation, and clients assuming service closed or fearful of hospital setting during the pandemic.
This has all had an impact on the mental health and protection of the most vulnerable. Significant financial stress for parents and fear re future employment is evident in our work. Cardiac and Respiratory Rehab clients are terrified (quite reasonably so) and hence significant anxiety issues have arisen more than usual. Our maintenance teams, cleaning services and food services, HSA and security services have all noticed an upsurge in their work and the risks associated with their work have not gone unnoticed during this pandemic. Most staff feel that Management, the CEO, NSW Health and of course our Union are working together diligently to keep us up to date and safe during such extraordinary times, so as to protect and assist our community.