The COVID-19 pandemic has seen staff step into different roles

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant some of Austin Health’s staff have stepped into roles they haven’t done previously, like registered nurse Jacqui Leverett.

While she’s usually tending to patients on the wards, for the past couple of months she’s been manning the phones at Austin Health’s Coronavirus call centre.

“I was more than happy to come here,” Jacqui said.

“I’ve never done office work before and it’s been really great. When you’re a nurse on the ward you’re on your feet all day so it’s different.

“It’s a really great team so I’ve enjoyed the move – it’s been a change but a good change.”

Jacqui undertook training with staff members who’d worked in the call centre since it first started and was trained to use the required IT systems.

And when it’s been so busy on some days with more than 200 calls coming through, she’s found her experience as a nurse has really helped.

“Sometimes I pick up on more clinical things – I’ve called ambulances for people, I’ve told people to go to the ED,” Jacqui said.

“I’ve directed people to the best care they can receive.”

The position isn’t without its challenges though.

As news and information during the pandemic changed rapidly, so too did the advice from the government.

“I come to work every day and get briefed on the new information and learn about the daily updates – we have butcher’s paper which has the daily updates written on them,” Jacqui said.

She said reassuring people they were ok when they called was especially rewarding.

“I think a lot of people who call are really scared – they think they have coronavirus,” she said.

“I try to use a bit of humour to reassure them that they’re not positive as humour never hurts. That’s my go to on the ward as well.

“Some people are relieved when the results are negative and yell and celebrate.”