Providing support through the ups and downs

In a busy week that saw areas of Western Australia go back into lockdown, as well as devastating bushfires to the north east of Perth, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) was well placed to continue supporting primary care.

WAPHA was one of the first organisations in WA to move to remote working, setting up a plan ahead team and an emergency response team, allowing the organization to ensure its road map was in step with the uncertain environment created by COVID-19.

CEO Learne Durrington said these measures allowed WAPHA to immediately return to a higher degree of remote working in the impacted areas.

“Importantly, this allowed us to continue to support primary care, service providers and other stakeholders without interruption, particularly given a significant amount of our interaction has been virtual since the pandemic began,” she said.

An unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment was met, with WAPHA’s logistics team overseeing the dispatch of 76,400 surgical masks, 5,600 P2 masks and 700 gowns to 140 sites across the state over only five days.

Our practice support team remained in regular communication with general practices to help keep them, their staff and their patients safe, while both the Practice Assist and HealthPathways websites’ COVID-19 sections were regularly updated, providing up to date, accurate information.

Meanwhile, more than 200 funded service providers were supported remotely via local teams with information and resources as well as regular updates via the Provider Connect newsletter.

Ms Durrington said if COVID-19 was to compromise service provision, WAPHA would support flexibility in the delivery of planned services to enable contracted service providers to adapt to the changing environment.

“Additionally, if any of our funded service providers in the areas impacted by the lockdown were unable to source masks for their staff or vulnerable clients, we were able to support them in that regard,” she said.

While WAPHA was responding to the lockdown, many areas to the north east of Perth were in a state of bushfire emergency, devastating local communities.

WAPHA, alongside the Australian Red Cross, WA Department of Communities and St John Ambulance, was able to support the WA Department of Health with the health response.

The organisation also reached out to general practices in the affected areas to see how it could best assist them and their patients.