September 4, 2020

Q&A with Dr Megan Robb, Director of Emergency

Being the Director of an Emergency Department during a pandemic comes with many challenges. We sat down with Dr Megan Robb, Northern Health Director of Emergency, to talk about her and her dedicated team’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has COVID-19 changed the work in your department? 

It has been a challenging time over the past six months but I’m very proud of our staff and how they are responding and adapting to the rapidly changing situation. There have been a lot of changes and we have had to learn how to work differently due to COVID-19. This has included undertaking additional training and implementing new models of care in our department.

We work in full PPE, which is hot and everything takes much longer to do. One of the biggest challenges wearing PPE is that it makes it harder to communicate and develop a personal connection with our patients. We all struggle with this aspect of our job at the moment.

The pandemic has brought us closer as a team and shown how dedicated and adaptable our staff really are. We are supporting one another and working collaboratively with staff across the entire health service, to ensure we can continue to provide the best possible care to our patients and the community.

How has your role as Director of Emergency changed? 

COVID–19 changes the way you work both personally and professionally. There is a new level of responsibility ensuring the health and safety of staff, patients, colleagues and the community. Work life balance is not as good as it should be, but that’s the role of an Emergency Department (ED) Director during a pandemic. I have had increased interactions with staff and teams I normally wouldn’t, such as engineering. There has been increased collaboration between departments within our hospital and also across health services.

We have developed and implemented multiple new models of care in a very short time frame. Often these changes are made with very short notice due to the rapidly changing nature of a pandemic. With every change, you need to immediately adapt. You then need to implement and explain these changes in a clear concise way. Communicating well, often and in multiple ways has been the key.

What are you most proud of in the last six months? 

I am incredibly proud of the way our team has responded to the pandemic. They continue to show up every day despite the uncertainty and continue to do their best for the patients and the community. The ED team has shown just how resilient, adaptable and dedicated they are. I am also very grateful for all the support ED has received from within Northern Health, especially during our Code Yellow. Having staff from other wards and disciplines working with us was amazing. I feel really privileged to be the Director of the Northern Hospital ED.

What’s your message to the community?

Our staff on the front line are working extremely hard to care for our patients and help protect our community. It’s crucial that everyone continues to maintain 1.5m distance and wears mandatory face coverings. It’s also important to maintain strict hand hygiene – wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. And please be kind and support each other – we are in this together.

What’s the one thing you would like the community to better understand about COVID-19?

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone and so we all need to be vigilant. Health care workers don’t consider themselves heroes. We are the last line of defence and need all to be involved in the fight against COVID-19.