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November 2021

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Northern Health community therapy service clinical co-ordinator Nicky Tully and associate director Sue Hull.

Phone checks support COVID-19 community

Northern Health has a support program in place for people in its catchment area who have tested positive to COVID-19.

The COVID monitor program provides best-practice care and ensures other health care needs are met while in the program.

The telephone-monitoring program also helps prevent unnecessary hospital admissions of mild COVID-19 cases and ensures isolation protocols are followed to limit community spread.

People in the program complete a daily self-check survey to let a Northern Health staff member know how they are feeling and if they have any new symptoms.

Staff then contact people based on their symptoms and if they need assistance with staying at home and isolating.

The program runs seven days a week and provides health advice if symptoms worsen and how to get food and essential items during isolation.

Support is also available for families with children, and interpreters are on hand.

The program is supporting more than 2,100 people with increasing daily demand.

Patients are allocated to Northern Health by the North Eastern Public Health Unit (NEPHU).

Divisional director of Hospital Without Walls Johanna Hayes said the program had seen an increase in people from 20 to over 2,100 in three weeks.

‘Last year, the COVID monitor program saw 900 patients over a three-month period which, at that time, was the highest in Australia.

‘Patients are sent a text message every day and then we can monitor their symptoms remotely.

‘Our staff can make contact with our patients if we can see their COVID-19 symptoms starting to deteriorate.

‘A lot of the symptoms of concern are shortness of breath and chest pain but there are also a lot of people who are highly-anxious and worried,’ Ms Hayes said.

Staff from across the health service are assisting with the program, working at Bundoora Centre or from home.

‘We have pulled lots of people from so many different areas,’ Ms Hayes said.

‘I am very grateful to people who have put their hands up.

‘People come from clinical backgrounds with nursing, allied health, medical and research expertise.

‘We also have people who are providing valuable support such as interpreting, care co-ordination and finance.

‘And we have some retired health professionals volunteering their time and able to share their knowledge and wisdom with us and our patients.’