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"Precious Gems 46"- Braveheart Gems in HCA
02 March 2020

With the elevation of DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) to Orange on 7 February 2020, we went into overdrive to ensure that our patients continue to receive the right level of care, without comprising them, our staff and our volunteers. The COVID-19 situation has been difficult for all of us. Community care providers like HCA, are often considered to be at the tail end of the health care value stream. Irrespective, the safety standards that we put in place are as stringent, if not more, during an outbreak.

We set up a task force and disseminated weekly updates to all staff, so that all will know the relevant precautionary measures to take. We had to consistently update our Pandemic Response Plan for easy reference.

Last week, we commenced on segregation for the clinical teams and I know that it has not been easy for all. All satellites were split into two teams - one team worked from the office, the other from home. The teams swap positions every Monday, in our effort to minimise contact between teams and to ensure that service can continue, in the event that anyone gets infected. This created quite a lot of inconvenience, as our daily roll calls and team meetings could only continue by using online meeting tools. However, our staff persevered and steadfastly used the tools provided, in order to render uninterrupted services to our beneficiaries. Thank you to all the clinical teams who continue to see our patients at home despite this very difficult situation. I really appreciate that everyone has taken it in their stride to continue serving our beneficiaries as best we can.

A special CART (Covid at Risk Response Team) team was also formed. They will visit at risk or suspect cases and are on-call 24/7. Special thanks to the CART team who willingly and bravely put their hands up. We interchangeably call them COVID Angels Response Team, a name they well deserve.

Our nurses had some initial difficulties with transportation to take them to our patients’ homes but with some creativity, we managed to overcome this. As part of precautionary measures, we have fewer Day Hospice patients. With fewer Day Hospice patients and thanks to our Day Hospice team, some volunteered to drive our nurses from satellites to patients' homes, with the rest of the Day Hospice team retaining their work at the Day Hospice. 

The non-clinical team did their part in supporting our clinical team, by helping to prepare the 'care-packs'. Thanks to them, we all received beautifully wrapped 'care-packs'. Every care pack contains an encouraging note from CEO, “Rest” advice, a Milo drink, a bottle of Brands, Lozenges and a tea bag.

For our volunteers, we want to express our sincere gratitude. Our volunteers continue to provide supporting activities to our Day Hospice patients, even though they can only come in smaller groups. Both our patients and staff alike are deeply touched.

The COVID-19 situation seems to be stabilising, but no one can be certain what is in store. We ask that everyone practices good personal hygiene and to take necessary precautions when we are providing our services. Internally we remind our staff to bring up for discussion any concerns that they might have, as we confront this difficult challenge.

I take this opportunity to thank each of you, including our volunteers and staff, for your support, commitment and bravery to look after our beneficiaries.

We will get over this with all hands on deck and by standing united together!

Stay safe everyone!