Greg Hallam was well aware of the COVID pandemic when he joined the Grampians Health team at Stawell.
After serving 23 years as a paramedic with Ambulance Victoria, the majority of that time at Stawell, Greg wanted to use his skills to help vaccinate the community.
He began in October last year, helping with vaccinations and swabbing community members at the drive through clinic. But after just a few weeks, Greg was offered a more important role that would help sustain the correct level of care for the community’s COVID patients.
“Three weeks after starting, I was asked to set up a ‘COVID at Home’ program which included involvement with writing policy and procedure,” Greg said.
“The whole aim of the program was to keep as many COVID patients as possible at home so we could free up hospital beds for other care needs.
Greg said the timing of the program proved crucial, and has proved to be an integral part of the COVID response ever since.
While there was COVID in the community, it was not known to what extent, and as numbers escalated the policies had to be adjusted.
“Those policies have basically been an active document ever since.”
Greg said the Stawell COVID at Home team had dealt with at least 1000 COVID patients since the program was introduced. He had been very appreciative of the support from fellow Grampians Health campuses and other partnerships.
“The other Grampians Health COVID at Home teams have been great support to us and I’ve had good support from the Grampians Public Health Unit. We’ve formed a really good team environment.
“We’ve also had a good working relationship with the Grampians Community Health Centre and the Northern Grampians Shire – providing food support and we’ve also been able to tap into social work and counselling services as well.”
“Last Easter we were able to repay that support by giving the smaller hospitals in the region a bit of a break. The Ballarat team and myself looked after all the COVID responses for hospitals in the Grampians region, excluding Ararat, for those four days.”
As communities across Victoria grapple with another surge in COVID cases, the COVID at Home program continues to support as many people as possible to stay at home.
For more information on managing COVID or suspected COVID illness, please go to coronavirus.vic.gov.au