Westmead Hospital gets health outbreak ready

Stephanie Toovey, Aaron De Los Santos, Evan Ferdous, Pramod Chandru, Jen Kok, Nicky Gilroy and Trish Walsh at a ‘bioprepardness’ workshop.

The Ebola epidemic was a stark reminder of the deadly effects of a health outbreak, one of the many reasons why Westmead Hospital staff are getting ahead of the curve.

A series of Westmead Hospital ‘biopreparedness’ workshops have helped staff plan the management of patients with an infectious disease, public health outbreaks and even biological terrorism.

Westmead Hospital registered nurse Trish Walsh runs through a scenario to support training. Dr Kavita Varshney in the background.

Westmead Hospital is a designated centre for the care of patients with highly infectious diseases. It is home to state-of-the-art isolation rooms in the intensive care unit, designed to protect patients and staff.

Emergency department specialist Dr Kavita Varshney said the preparations will help staff feel confident in the event a dangerous infection needs to be managed.

“We must be prepared to react immediately to dangerous health events, while protecting our staff who provide care to our patients,” Dr Varshney said.

Trish Walsh hosts a workshop at Westmead Hospital.

“Our new program of training and education is being conducted in small groups, ensuring various staff members can respond to infections such as Ebola or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

“It is hoped that we never have to deal with a widespread outbreak, but it is important we prepare – handling patients with a highly infectious disease is complex and requires personal protective equipment (PPE) that requires detailed training to put on and off.”

For more information about the training workshops please email patricia.ferguson@health.nsw.gov.au.