By Mark Vella
CEO, Total Healthcare PHO
When COVID-19 hit our shores in January this year, Total Healthcare and our provider network Tāmaki Health were ready to hit the ground running.
Our exceptional clinical and operational reach coupled with networked IT and well-oiled internal communciations processes saw us perfectly placed to respond to both lockdowns - at pace.
At the heart of our successful operation has been our fantastic and dedicated team: doctors, nurses, managers and board members, administrators, receptionists, telephonists, clinical assistants, psychologists, health coaches, clinical family navigators and more.
Together, in the recent Auckland lockdown, we set up three CBACs (community based assessments centres) in 24 hours in Auckland – the first opening at St Lukes within four hours of notification from the Ministry of Health.
In the first lockdown, we introduced novel “flexihubs” that delivered safe in-clinic patient care and which were an unqualified success for the network over the crisis period.
Importantly, during the first lockdown, the hubs became key to our approach for dealing with low income families, who may not have the broadband or phone credit for the option of our virtual consults.
Where other practices around the country were lamenting the lack of PPE, test kits and flu vaccines or any cohesive information about them, we were able to deploy all of these (as well as rostering staff) where they were most needed.
Tāmaki Health was quick to set up two daily ops meetings via Zoom; keep the team of 1000 up to date every day with information from the medical director; provide intranet updates from the CEO and COO; close, clean and reopen clinics, redirect patients via text, phone and posters to CBACs and flexihubs; test and isolate staff when necessary; and introduce the red and green triaging system.
We put up shelters for staff in our CBACs, and for patients in flexihubs, we sourced and used protective perspective visors for staff and screens for reception desks. And we continue to innovate to keep our staff and our patients safe.
Being networked and with a financially lean PHO means our providers can provide the best care possible, and we can do it at scale.
The agility that we have demonstrated during the COVID pandemic has long been part of our makeup at Total Healthcare and Tāmaki Health. It’s an agility born of our desire to align our best resources and delivery of care to patient need, especially among our high needs communities.