March 19, 2020

COVID-19 simulation held today

Today, Northern Hospital held a multidisciplinary, hospital-wide in-situ simulation which included a patient who came in who had a suspected case of COVID-19. The simulation involved multiple departments and teams, including emergency, anaesthetics, ICU, recovery, High Reliability Organisation (HRO) and Patient Services Attendants (PSAs).

Dr Nancy Sadka, Emergency Physician, explained that the aim of the simulation is to test our systems on how we would manage these patients. The simulation started with a call from Ambulance Victoria saying that they have a suspected COVID-19 patient with recent travel history and symptoms consistent with pneumonia.

“The patient was in respiratory distress and needed to be intubated. With the patient’s symptoms, we couldn’t wait for the positive test to take precautions – we took precautions from the beginning to the end. We went to three areas of the hospital to test our systems and processes. The simulation started in the Emergency Department, then moved on to Recovery and ended in the Intensive Care Unit,” she said.

Around 30-35 people were involved in today’s simulation, and Nancy feels this was an excellent test of our systems.

“Different teams were working together. The infection control was evolved to see how we don and doff our PPE and all this has been done to help us prepare as an organisation. It has helped us feel confident to manage these patients,” she said.

Dr Sadka added that in-situ simulations help create the culture where all our teams, together, build staff confidence for real-life scenarios.

“The key things staff can learn from this simulation is that we need to be prepared and to practice and communicate together as a team. We also need to involve all team members in every phase so they can contribute. We need to make sure our teams are confident and comfortable using the PPE and precaution measures, so they can protect themselves on daily bases,” she said.

Personal Services Assistants (PSAs) participated in the simulation for the first time. Cindy Sherlock, PSA on the Maternity Ward found the simulation very eye-opening.

“I don’t usually do patient transfers, but it’s nice to know that if in an emergency I get a call, I would know exactly what to do. The key takeouts for me and the two other PSAs who participated is the new donning and doffing for PPE and the procedures around that.

Brooke Williams, HRO Project Support Officer, has facilitated numerous simulations at Northern Health.

“What I have learned through my ongoing simulation experience is that sometimes people can forget the things they know when they are under high pressure. That is why practising these high-intensity scenarios is so important. When a real patient comes, we are better equipped to handle the situation,” said Brooke.

Patient in ED
Patient in Recovery
Patient transferred to ICU
Patient in ICU
Debrief after the simulation