In late January 2020, a novel respiratory virus had swept across the world, striking down vulnerable people with waves of sick patients inundating major hospitals.
Staff at the Central Adelaide Infection Prevention and Control Unit, however, had been preparing since November 2019 after undertaking scenario testing. They held key stakeholder meetings and began stockpiling personal protective equipment (PPE).
Nurse Unit Manager Marija Juraja was on the frontline gathering information to respond to this evolving emergency situation and to implement effective risk reduction measures.
“It went from business as usual to seeing what we could drop. Our priority became training up staff in PPE, having appropriate signage, appropriate information to give to the public,” Marija said.
“It was challenging, it really was. Every day brought a different challenge, and you had to learn to adapt quickly, especially with ensuring our communication to staff was in line with state and national guidelines. That was the biggest challenge.”
To communicate directly with all CALHN staff, Marija sent a regular infection control bulletin with up-to-date information – such as changes to procedures – to address clinical requirements.
Marija’s work during the challenging period was a true reflection of CALHN’s values and she recently received a CEO/Board Commendation for excellence in nursing.
Marija mobilised her connections with local and Australia-wide industry suppliers to access where possible personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time of high demand.
Her planning and a great amount of teamwork with Nurse Unit Manager COVID-19 Clinic/Outpatients Craig Robinson also ensured the Royal Adelaide Hospital COVID-19 testing clinic was operational in less than 48 hours.
Marija’s leadership positioned CALHN in a state of readiness to receive the first COVID-positive patients while continuing to provide the usual functions as a health service.
Her knowledge and reassuring advice was sought by many in CALHN and externally across the state throughout the state’s pandemic response.