June 3, 2019

Winter Strategy Launches

After winter 2017 saw an unprecedented demand for services, Northern Health decided to proactively develop a strategy to manage the increased demand during winter.

Katharine See, Head of Respiratory Medicine and Winter Strategy lead said this year is the second year of the initiative, with new programs launching.

“Each year, we come up with a different set of initiatives designed to help us address the key priorities: optimising patient flow, managing all the patients that come in with influenza-like illness and trying to enhance the capacity of our workforce, as well as processes which help streamline the discharge,” she said.

This year, the two key initiatives are the ‘HOT Clinics’ and the Supported Transition to Assist Recovery (STAR) program.

“HOT clinics are general medical clinics designed to avoid admission for people who need an early review, or patients who need early follow-up, so that they can be discharged home sooner,” she explained.

The ‘HOT Clinics’ will be running on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the moment. They can be booked by any of the ward clerks.

“The STAR, which starts on July 1, is a new initiative, as we’ve identified that patients over 70 who have pneumonia, COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or heart failure are often coming back to hospital after 72 hours of discharge,” Katharine said.

“The program is designed so that these people receive a phone call within 24-48 hours after going home. The STAR nurse will check how they are going with recovery, make sure they understand their care plan and medications,” she added.

The STAR program can also book them into ‘HOT Clinics’ or to see their GP, or even to get the ‘Hospital in the Home’ involved. It is designed to assist people to continue to get well and stay well at home.

“This is a brand new initiative, unique to Northern Health”, Katharine added.

This winter season is already showing high levels of flu. The flu inter-season, which is the summer period was also high, and the current high rates of flu are affecting the staff as well.

“Please make sure to get your free flu shot and bring your families,” Katharine added.