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Innovation in action: transforming healthcare operations to meet the Coronavirus challenge

When the going gets tough, Serco colleagues can be counted on to move mountains to get the job done. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, their capability, experience and exceptional ‘can do’ attitude has been helping governments respond rapidly and effectively to the innumerable and evolving complex challenges posed by the disease. Their response has been nothing short of inspirational. 

At Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) in Perth, where we deliver non-clinical services, our team has been playing a lead role in helping FSH mobilise for Covid-19. As the newest public hospital in Western Australia and with the most negative pressure rooms, which prevent cross contamination of air from where infectious patients are treated, a high number of Covid-19 patients were anticipated. 

When three cruise ships arrived in Perth with suspected Covid-19 cases, preparations shifted into emergency response. 

“A vast amount of change was required at all levels in extremely short timeframes,” said Tessa Dowd, Service Improvement Manager. “We were implementing new policies, processes and procedures, reconfiguring the hospital, supporting our teams with new information and practices and all the while managing changing Government guidelines.” 

All Serco teams worked around the clock to set up a complete onsite Covid-19 clinic in just six days, transforming four gyms and converting more than 500 square metres of hospital space to negative pressure. At its peak, the clinic tested over 500 people daily. 

While our porters helped move infected patients around the hospital, a dedicated team of Domestic Assistants volunteered to keep the clinic clean. Diana Morales and Patricia Ruxton said: “It was very busy and many people were nervous, but we all worked together to get the job done, safely. We are proud to be part of making the hospital a safer place.” 

Our Infection Prevention and Safety teams delivered refresher training for more than 1,000 Serco colleagues, Covid-19 specific training where required and developed new ways of working, including new pathways for moving patients around the hospital. “Our focus has been on providing reassurance, keeping people safe and ensuring we continue to deliver the best service possible,” said Nicole Sarader, Infection Prevention and Clinical Advisor. 

Our Technology team developed a system to improve patient communication and reduce physical contact to conserve PPE, using specially configured tablets and a translation app. “Many cruise patients did not speak English and were far from home,” said Tristan Kinnane, Technical Architect. “Our solution made a massive difference for them and the medical staff.” 

Other activity included: working with the State Health Incident Command Centre to ensure sufficient supply of PPE and medical equipment; installing more than 200 additional hand sanitiser dispensers; helping to deliver an emergency recruitment process for new medical staff and a review of 700-plus vulnerable government health employees; setting up a Covid-19 enquiries service for the 5,000 hospital employees; and piloting the first ultraviolet disinfecting robot in Australia, to deliver enhanced disinfection of clinical areas. 

Roz Hanson, former Contract Director at FSH, said: “I was so proud of the responsive and cohesive commitment shown by everyone. Despite the pace and the pressure, there was a heart-warming sense of united purpose. Our teams felt empowered, trusted, safe and supported to step out of their comfort zones and support the adjustment of the whole hospital to a new model of care provision." 

“The overwhelming attitude was ‘get the job done, together’,” said Tristan Kinnane. “Being part of it – our colleagues, clinical staff and management team doing that with flexibility and agility – was extremely motivating and incredible to experience.”