DOCTOR Mark Page is the man everyone looks to in high-pressure situations at the Warrnambool Base Hospital on any given day, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
He is in his 15th year at South West Healthcare, and the director of critical care and infection prevention for five of those.
Dr Page oversees the running of the Base intensive care unit, is the senior doctor on call, and is the local face of Australian Community Media's big thank you to all frontline health workers on front pages today.
"This involves at least twice daily reviews of patients in ICU, assisting in procedures that they may need (special drips like central lines), discussing patient progress with families of ICU patients and liaising with other medical and surgical teams about their patients who are in ICU," he said.
"Significant amounts of time are also put into ensuring our ICU beds are used appropriately, such as reserving them for the sickest patients who need what ICU can offer, advanced life support like ventilators for breathing help, special medications and fluids to assist in circulation support and sometimes kidney replacement machines.
"I also function as a general physician with my colleagues at SWH to look after medical patients needing to come to hospital for a variety of reasons, such as strokes and heart problems."
Dr Page said adapting to an unprecedented and ever-changing situation had been the most challenging aspect of leading a large team during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Keeping up with the flow of information and guidelines has been a challenge, ensuring all our decisions are balanced and as evidenced-based as they can be with a rapidly changing landscape," he said.
"Infection prevention is a broad role encompassing oversight of managing patients in hospital with an infection to avoid them spreading it to other patients or staff, direct diagnosis and treatment plans for those with infections, assisting with the rational use of antibiotics as well as assisting the hospital to cope with community outbreaks or epidemics like we are seeing with COVID-19.
"I work closely with both the SWH executive and the SWH infection prevention and control team who are ably led by Jenny Lukeis as coordinator."
He said unlike most situations he found himself in as a medical worker on the front line, where specialists and surgeons played the most important roles, he said this time the public played the most vital role.
"Follow the public health directives. With no vaccine and no treatment, it is no contact that is needed for us to beat the virus," he said.
He said the role was not without its challenges but the people he worked with made all the difference.
"During this COVID-19 pandemic, the most rewarding part of my role has been seeing the best of people come to the fore when faced with adversity," he said.
"In general, it's working as a team with other clinicians, junior medical staff, nursing staff and the patient to get the best outcome we can for each patient."
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