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Health alert: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

ED navigating better mental health care for patients during COVID-19

13 October 2020

As many of us have been left feeling stressed, depressed and anxious by the coronavirus pandemic, PA Hospital Emergency Nurse Navigator Shane Collett is working hard to ensure appropriate support is provided to patients presenting frequently to the Emergency Department (ED) in need of mental health care.

“Predominantly people who present frequently are dealing with mental health, drug and alcohol issues, and societal challenges. My role is to examine and improve care delivery systems within ED to ensure these lower-acuity patients with consistent underlying issues of loneliness and disconnection receive the care they need as quickly as possible,” he said, explaining how he has worked closely with Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services to enable ED patients to gain direct access to the Metro South Health Wellbeing Team.

“Instead of patients having to wait a day or two to access support, we can now provide a suicide prevention intervention and risk assessment and they can go straight to a mental health service at Woolloongabba the same afternoon or next day.”

Shane has also supported patient wellbeing by developing helpful resources for patients to peruse in the ED waiting area about how to deal with coronavirus-related stress. 

“The pandemic has put significant strain on everyone, including making it harder to engage in activities that are protective of our mental health such as socialising and exercise, so I have put together mindfulness resources for patients around COVID-19 to help them deal with feelings of anxiety and distress.”

According to Shane, although these interventions may not translate into fewer visits to ED, the plan to support patient flow and facilitate better patient health outcomes is certainly working.

“We might not reduce presentations, but we are providing a more streamlined service to those patients so they can access the right support as quickly as possible. Their time in the department has reduced dramatically and we are also seeing a reduction in patients re-presenting to the ED with a near 100 per cent presentation rate at the Wellbeing Team, which represents a significant quality improvement.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis contact Metro South Health’s Addiction and Mental Health Service.

Last updated 13 October 2020
Last reviewed 13 October 2020

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