For almost 2 and a half years, cohealth has been at the forefront of Victoria’s COVID-19 response. We’ve vaccinated thousands, we’ve tested even more, we’ve helped people recover from COVID-19 at home, and we’ve provided essential health information and services to communities across the state.
As many of these services wrap up, we look at some of the incredible teams that made this phenomenal work possible.
Helping people recover from COVID-19 takes dedication, patience, and quick-on-your-feet thinking, and the COVID Positive Pathways team had that and more!
Since August 2020, the Pathways team connected with over 200,000 people who had tested positive, providing them with the support and information they needed to help them safely isolate and recover at home. The size of the team grew with demand, with 144 new staff joining the team during the October 2021 – January 2022 surge.
“I have been constantly impressed by the dedication, flexibility and humanity of the Pathways team and how they have got through multiple surges,” says Annika Priest, Team Leader COVID Isolation Support.
Not only did this team assess people to work out the medical care they needed, they also worked around the clock to make sure people had exactly what they needed during their isolation. They worked with other teams in our COVID response to get groceries, nappies, medication, and other essential supplies to people’s doors, as well as games, birthday cakes, special ingredients, laptops, and more!
It was the Pathways team that connected people with GPs and other services and checked up on people throughout their recovery to make sure they were improving and didn’t feel alone.
“Working with the pathways team makes me proud of the fact that I’m able to help people in need, especially during challenging times in isolation,” says Walters Obin Mbi, COVID+ Care Navigator. “I put myself in their shoes and do my best to make sure they go through this challenging time at ease without much stress or worries”.
Team members were a supportive voice on the other end of the phone or at the front door for people in what could be a lonely time.
Thank you Positive Pathways team!
After the North Melbourne/Flemington public housing lockdown in 2020, it was clear that going forward the COVID response in public housing towers needed to be community-led. And so High-Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR) was devised by the Department of Health to be delivered by community health services around Melbourne. cohealth took up the call to provide this service in the north of Melbourne.
“In the midst of a crisis, we saw an opportunity to change the way we support our community,” says Emit Taylor, COVID Community Engagement Manager.
cohealth’s HRAR team operated at 29 public housing high-rises in Melbourne’s north. Not only did this response support residents to get vaccinated, tested and informed, it also employed over 100 residents to work as Health Concierges and provide their communities with accessible, culturally appropriate health information.
Health Concierges became such an important part of cohealth’s COVID response. Having people who were in the same situation as them and knew the communities provided residents with comfort and familiarity. Our Health Concierges were able to connect with people and grow relationships at a time when trust was so important.
“People know that we understand what they are going through, so we can connect on that level,” says Health Concierge Ayan Manzi.
“To have that familiar face, people feel bolder to come and say hi and share the situation they’re going through.”
The HRAR team prevented and managed COVID-19 outbreaks in the high-rises with dedication and empathy and built relationships with residents along the way. They were constantly looking for ways to engage with residents and provide them with both important health information and social services. This can be seen in the free community op shop, community fun days, energy bill information session, the Jobs Board and health engagement events.
HRAR has been a shining example of the power of place-based care and the importance of building trust within communities.
Thank you HRAR team!
Our COVID-19 testing team has been at the centre of Victoria’s response. Across their 27 months of operation, they have delivered 237,571 PCR tests and 79,236 rapid antigen tests. They have worked so hard to get Victorians tested and control the spread of the virus.
Testing was one of the very first COVID services cohealth provided, so this incredible team has been there since the beginning. They have provided testing at fixed and temporary sites around Melbourne and have taken testing to pop-ups and to people’s homes. They have worked through peak holiday times and weathered surges in testing demand with flexibility, dedication and composure. During one peak day, they conducted 1,162 tests at our University of Melbourne testing site!
But don’t ask us, let our testing clients tell you what they think of the team!
“I would like to wholeheartedly thank the Drill Hall testing team for their excellent, efficient and humanising service … They are all great examples that truly exemplify Australia’s healthcare system, and Aussie hospitality.”
“I attended the testing site in Carlton and wanted to let you know how helpful and kind your staff were. Everyone I encountered at your site was friendly and professional in conditions I imagine are not always easy to work in.”
“Thank you for a wonderful service. I took my toddler for a COVID test at West Footscray yesterday and the doctor/nurse was so kind. My daughter was really distressed because the procedure was so painful last time. On that occasion she was so upset and unsettled afterwards. However, yesterday’s experience was so much less stressful thanks to the care and compassion of the gentleman who administered it.”
Thank you testing team!
Our Community Response team worked to bring COVID-19 services and supports to communities that needed them the most. This team of nurses and paramedics visited 2,597 locations, knocked on 6,890 doors for welfare checks and delivered 44,421 PCR tests for public high-rise residents.
The team worked tirelessly seven days a week across high-risk accommodation settings. They conducted in-home testing and physical assessments, organised food and medication for isolating residents and were there constantly for residents with information and support. They worked with warmth and kindness in high-rise public housing towers, low-rise public housing and hotels where people experiencing homelessness were staying.
Their flexibility and commitment meant that so many people who regularly face barriers to healthcare were able to access the support they needed when they needed it. The way this team worked was in contrast to the police-led lockdowns of high-rise towers in 2020, and was proof that a compassionate health-led response will always be what works.
Thank you, Community Response team!
Vaccination formed such a huge part of Australia’s COVID response. It has been a key turning point in the pandemic, and the thing that allowed us to return to our families, friends and workplaces. The vaccination rollout required a massive effort from government, nurses, hospitals, and other organisations. cohealth played a central role in this. Our vaccination team administered 108, 307 doses across 87 vaccination sites, including our fixed cohealth clinics, temporary clinics, pop-ups, places of worship, public housing, homeless services, sporting clubs, schools, homes, and more. The vaccination team travelled all around Melbourne and into regional Victoria.
“We are taking the vaccine to places that they know. People who are homeless often have a routine, places that they go to access regular food or other aid,” said a cohealth Health Guide about our vaccination pop-ups for people experiencing homelessness. “When people come to get their lunch or dinner at the Salvos café, or St Mark’s or Lazerus Centre, they’ll see our van and know something is happening.”
With dedication and enthusiasm, our vaccination team made sure that people who face barriers to healthcare could access the vaccine in a safe, comfortable and non-judgemental environment. By taking the vaccine to people’s communities and homes, they broke down those barriers and ensured that they could get vaccinated in the easiest way possible.
When vaccines for children rolled out in January 2022, the vaccination team were there. They made sure children felt safe, comforted and welcomed while getting vaccinated.
“I was charmed by the space and ambience of your West Melbourne site,” said one parent.
“A huge shout out to everyone for making a clinical space warm and welcoming and even bigger props to all the team who were super organised, welcoming and calm at what must have been the end of a long day.”
The vaccination team performed their roles with incredible empathy, often vaccinating people afraid or anxious about needles. In each situation they did their best to help the person feel safe and distracted them by chatting while they vaccinated them.
“To the person who administered my vaccination, thank you for being so gentle, calm and understanding,” said one client.
“You made a big difference to my experience as I am very scared of injections. You are all doing a wonderful job and I’m glad that I ended up at your clinic and feel confident about coming back again.”
Thank you vaccination team!