Managing COVID at Middlemore’s Emergency Department

Assessing and keeping patients and staff safe in Middlemore is a constant focus, especially in COVID times. Emergency Department Service Manager Tracey Mitchell says one of the successes has been the COVID triage tent to assess people as they arrive at our Emergency Department.

As part of the infection prevention and control measures, the triage tent has proven instrumental in managing COVID-19 patient flow at Middlemore. 

"We initially set the tent up in October last year to screen patients for COVID and complete swabs to assist with putting the patients in the most appropriate location based on their COVID risk."

"All patients went through this and were streamed. Then when volumes got high, we changed it after realising it was a lot for some of the staff to wear full PPE all day. It gets hot and takes time to put on."

"The tent has now become a COVID-19 hub. If you present as stable and test COVID positive, we place you into the tent, and If you're unwell, you head to the most appropriate clinical location."

"For some people, they may have few or no symptoms, and so the tent is an area that allows us to test safely and keep the waiting room free for patients who are lower risk."

Rising case numbers in the community means continuing to look at our processes and being able to adapt quickly. Tracey says Omicron's biggest challenge has been maintaining levels of staff during the surge; however, she's grateful to have had a lot of support from people around the hospital.

Since January, Middlemore's Emergency Department has been at the forefront of the Omicron outbreak, seeing a high number of its workforce infected with COVID or named a household contact.

"Like everyone else, the team has not been immune to the impacts of Omicron."

"Many of our staff have children, and they come from families who have COVID too, but they push on and continue to give."

Tracey is responsible for the overall management and day-to-day operations of the ED service, ensuring the staff of 512 are looked after.

"It's about visible leadership and recognition of their continued hard work. I'm a registered nurse, so I go into the department to provide care where I can. At times it has been overwhelming, but this is not forever. We will get through this."

As the surge continues, Middlemore's Emergency Department staff will continue to lead with high-quality care serving the community.

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