April 18, 2023

We Are Northern: This is the Reception and Switchboard team

The Reception and Switchboard at Northern Health operate across Northern Hospital Epping, Broadmeadows Hospital and Bundoora Centre.

The team is responsible for greeting and assisting patients, staff and the general public, while also answering and directing phone calls from internal and external stakeholders.

Reception and Switchboard also process incoming and outgoing mail, manage the paging systems, maintain a directory of over 6,500 contact numbers and summarise clinician rosters to ensure quick access to on-call details in an emergency.

Northern Hospital Epping is a 24/7 department, and the Reception and Switchboard team based there are often the first point of contact for many additional responsibilities that need to be accessed after-hours, including answering after-hours calls for Broadmeadows Hospital and Bundoora Centre.

Reception and Switchboard also responds to the 2222 Emergency Code Phone. There are 15 different types of Emergency Codes that can be called, each with their own procedures that must be followed.

There are seven receptionists at Broadmeadows Hospital, eight at Bundoora Centre and 28 at Northern Hospital Epping. Each of them utilises their own individual customer service skills and makes sure they are up to date with Northern Health processes and any changes that may occur.

Receptionist and Switchboard operator, Gloria Lipus, has recently celebrated 33 years of work and commitment to the health service.

“In 1990, when my twins were only one year old, I took a job at PANCH because mortgage interest rates were rising. It was only supposed to be a temporary job, but my twins are 34 years old now, interest rates are still rising, and I haven’t looked for another job since,” she said.

Reflecting back on some of the changes she has seen since she first started, she says life was much simpler back then.

“Computers and mobile phones replaced the plug and cord switchboard, PANCH became too small while Northern grew bigger and bigger. At PANCH I knew everyone, but now I know only a handful of my colleagues as there are so many of us,” she said.

Northern Health Reception Manager, Nick Caruana, says that Reception and Switchboard are the main point of contact, and are privileged to work closely with all of the Northern Health’s stakeholders.

“From patients and their families to the staff that keep this place running, Reception at some point will assist most people who either enter the hospital or call seeking assistance,” he said.

The pandemic triggered a number of changes within Northern Health that Reception and Switchboard had to stay on top of, all the while handling 30,000 – 45,000 calls a month – a 50 per cent increase in call volume compared to before the pandemic.

“During this time, the Reception and Switchboard team were instrumental in keeping information flowing across Northern Health to our stakeholders, which I can confidently say was handled exceptionally well,” said Mr Caruana.

In 2023, the Reception and Switchboard team is looking to streamline their current processes to make them more efficient. One way in which they have already achieved this is by automating Northern Health’s clinician on-call rosters to ensure they always have online, up-to-date information.

They also look forward to increasing their workforce as Northern Health’s catchment keeps expanding and staying up to date with any changes that come with Northern Health’s incredibly exciting growth.

Thank you to our Reception and Switchboard team for everything that you do for Northern Health!

Receptionist and Switchoard operator Theresa Micallef- Broadmeadows Reception
Receptionist and Switchboard operator Grace Parisi- Entry 5 (Northern Hospital Epping)

Pictured in featured image (left to right): Receptionists and Swtichboard operators Debra Kinder, Elizabeth Anagnostou,  Bianca Greig and June Duckmanton with Hospital Reception Manager Nicholas Caruana