September 22, 2021

Supporting people with COVID-19

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

Our COVID Monitor Program provides best practice care for people whom have tested positive for COVID-19, and ensures other health care needs are met whilst in the program.

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

Patients complete a daily self-check survey to let a Northern Health staff member know how they are feeling and if they have any other symptoms. Staff will then contact patients based on their symptoms and if they need assistance with staying at home and isolating for 14 days.

The program runs seven days a week, and provides patients with 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 over 1,200 people, with increasing daily demand. Patients are allocated to Northern Health by the North Eastern Public Health Unit (NEPHU).

Johanna Hayes, Divisional Director of Hospital Without Walls, said the program had seen an increase in patients from 20 to over 1,200 in the past 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. In the past three weeks, we have gone from 20 patients to now over 1,200 patients,” she said.

“We have an IT system in the background, so 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. If you can walk in the shoes of the people who have got COVID-19, you’ll understand that it is a very stressful time for families, individuals, and the community.”

“We also work closely with the Northern Health Virtual Emergency Department. Patients can have a telehealth appointment with an Emergency Department clinician. We continue to improve and innovate the care for people at home.”

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. 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 coordination and finance.”

“We also have some retired health professionals volunteering their time and have been able to share their knowledge and wisdom with us and our patients.”

Henni Wade, Manager Volunteer Services, said Northern Health volunteers were preparing to assist with the program.

“We are hoping the volunteers can assist with deliveries of food and other supplies if normal avenues are not available. We are putting procedures in place to ensure this support can be offered in a safe way,” Henni said.

“We have about 14 volunteers who have offered to assist and they are eagerly awaiting to be assigned a job. They are raring to go and can’t wait to feel like they have a sense of purpose in helping the hospital’s approach to caring for our community.”

Requests for Northern Health volunteers to assist with deliveries of essential items can be sent to

Featured image: Nicky Tully and Sue Hull at the COVID Monitor Program