No ordinary tent

No ordinary tent

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Acting Director of Nursing & Midwifery Jo Harris with staff in the newly constructed marquee at Armadale Hospital. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Amidst record-breaking rates of COVID infection in the WA community, Armadale Hospital is preparing to get ahead of the COVID challenge by changing the way patients are admitted to its Emergency Department.
The recently constructed, 300 square-metre marquee will soon go into operation at Armadale Hospital to screen all presenting Emergency Department patients for COVID 19.
Similar marquees are already running at Emergency Departments across Perth – a move resulting from expert analysis and lessons learnt in other parts of the country.
Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Armadale Hospital, Jo Harris, took The Examiner on an exclusive tour of the new facility on Monday.
“This is going to be predominantly the Emergency Department Triage and Rapid Antigen Testing area,” said Jo.
“We’ve already got a miniature one set up now, this is just making sure we are able to manage it in a pandemic-type situation where we’re going to get high volumes,” she said.
“As we move forward, managing the volume of people and trying to keep everyone safe, this will become the sort and sieve area,” she said.
“This is where we can perform the rapid antigen test, it takes 15 minutes and it gives us an indication of whether you’re positive or negative and we can manage you safely through the system,” she said.
The marquee caters to all patients, however emergency procedures remain for life-threatening emergencies.
If a patient is determined to meet any of the criteria, they will undergo a Rapid Antigen Test after following the Australian triage process for their presenting complaint.
A positive result will mean the patient is attended to in a specially modified, COVID-positive treatment section of the Emergency Department.
“We have an area set up in the department already that is the respiratory assessment area – it has negative flow and negative pressure – it specifically caters to people with COVID so we’re protecting the other patients that don’t have it,” said Jo.
“If you don’t meet any of the criteria then you wouldn’t need the test and you would continue on your journey to the Emergency Department,” she said.
“We’re trying to provide a compassionate, patient-centred service but we also have to mitigate the risk of who’s coming into the hospital,” she said.
While the outside may look plain, this new screening facility is no ordinary tent.
The structure, which is fireproof and has been built to weather specifications, has vinyl flooring for easy sanitation, accessible toilets, a staff PPE changing area, CCTV and HEPA airflow filters.
“All of our function here is to make sure that people still have access to the healthcare that they need at the right time and the right place, that’s our key goal, it’s just how we keep the most people as safe as we can while we’re in a COVID pandemic,” said Jo.
“The only way we can manage and mitigate those risks is by testing the patients that are coming through our door.”
The designated COVID Clinic at Armadale Hospital is still operating as normal for people who are not seeking emergency care to get tested.