How great leadership helped minimize health care worker (HCW) COVID-19 infections in a busy ICU.

Ms Christine Sharp1

1Alfred Health, Prahran, Australia

Introduction: Working in Infection Prevention (IP) during both waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria, and working closely with our Intensive care unit (ICU), I was in awe of the ICU leadership team, which demonstrated amazing support of all their staff. Staff were listened to, engaged, involved and felt supported and well educated. This gave them confidence to give their best to the patients and keep themselves safe. Of note, no ICU staff member contracted COVID-19 in the course of their work.

Background: Alfred ICU is a busy unit with extremely high acuity patients and averages between 40-45 inpatients per day, sometimes extending to 50 and the year 2020 saw 350 COVID positive days. Stress and anxiety levels were initially high.

Method: The ICU leadership team both medical and nursing, is normally very supportive and respectful of their staff. During the COVID-19 pandemic this was boosted with daily meetings to identify barriers to patient and staff safety; increased IP support; personal protective equipment (PPE) training and monitoring; concierge service for directing  staff; establishing changing facilities; guideline updates; PPE supply updates; mask fit-checking sessions; bi-weekly all-staff forums; expanding tea rooms to enable social distancing; wellbeing support and on-line social events.  Teamwork, constant communication and supervision of infection prevention practices when caring for S/COVID patients in isolation helped alleviate stress levels.

Conclusion: The care and respect that was shown to all staff with the above measures helped allay anxiety and increased confidence in following guidelines, workflows and processes to ensure their safety.


Christine has worked for 2 years as an Infection Prevention Nurse Consultant and has over 25 years experience in ICU with the last 5 years as Intensive Care Infection Prevention support. She has held education and management positions and is very passionate about staff having Infection Prevention knowledge. She worked closely in 2020 with the Intensive Care Unit during Covid-19 pandemic.

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