The COVID-19 clinic built in two days – Prince of Wales' story one year on
Twelve months ago this week, on Thursday 12 March 2020, Prince of Wales Hospital (POWH) opened what would become one of the busiest COVID-19 flu/assessment clinics in NSW.
In just 48 hours, staff with a wide range of expertise came together to set up clinic operations. Facing new and increased pressures, the team collaborated to help protect the community from COVID-19, many assuming unfamiliar responsibilities.
In the first four months – when the world was coming to grips with the scale of the pandemic ahead – almost 16,000 presentations came through the door.
Kristen Overton, Staff Specialist, Infectious Diseases, POWH, said looking back on the fast pace of March 2020, her recollections are a bit of a blur.
"There was in excess of 50 people involved in clinic planning to make the impressive feat of a 48-hour turnaround a reality," Ms Overton said.
"Helping hands came from nursing, admin, maintenance, porters, medical officers, domestic services, health information, IT, security, infection control, endocrine and the ED – just to name a few departments that made critical contributions.
"We had to repurpose what was previously the diabetes centre – this meant carpets had to be replaced with vinyl flooring and exhaust air flow altered to ensure stringent infection control standards were met – required when caring for potentially COVID-19 positive patients.
"We urgently installed signage so diabetes patients could be re-directed and even new phone lines had to be installed, – all of which was done just 30 minutes before we opened the clinic's doors.
"While it was a testing time for all healthcare workers, the collaboration amongst staff was the best I have experienced in my career. The hospital community unified in the early months of the pandemic in a way that made me feel anything was possible," Ms Overton said.
For Louise Barclay, Nurse Manager, COVID-19 Clinic, POWH, being deployed to run the clinic after working in the Hospital in the Home team for over 20 years was a steep learning curve.
"The early days of clinic operations were a moveable feast – we trialled different processes to find what worked best and taught each other as we went," Ms Barclay said.
"One year on, our operations are extremely efficient. I'm really proud of what we achieved and grateful for the excellent support received from people across the campus who helped create a clinic where both staff and patients are in safe hands.
"My experience has come full circle, as I've now received my first COVID-19 vaccination. All of our clinic staff have been booked in to have theirs, including nurses, patient services assistants and the admin team. We've been through so much together over the past year, it's great to move as a team into the next phase of the COVID-19 response," Ms Barclay said.