COVID-19: what does it mean for Fiona Stanley Hospital’s Emergency Department?

COVID-19: what does it mean for Fiona Stanley Hospital’s Emergency Department?

Post by: Spinnaker Foundation
Post on: April 14, 2020

Fiona Stanley Hospital Emergency Department is one of the busiest in the country and the team have now taken on the additional challenge of preparing for the Covid threat while maintaining the highest standards of usual care.

FSH ED Director, Dr Vanessa Clayden, and ED Nurse Unit Manager Ms Aleca Våelzeboer have assembled an emergency medicine taskforce of more than 20 staff to plan for the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We really have had to rapidly redesign everything we do in anticipation of what is ahead of us” Dr Clayden said.

“It’s about making sure we continue to do all the usual things we do well, look after emergencies such as heart attacks and major injuries, while at the same time preparing for COVID-19 patients with breathing difficulties that will need specialised care”.

Dr Clayden said people will notice changes if they have to come to ED in this period as measures have been taken to keep patients safe and limit exposure to the virus.


An additional clinic has been established away from the main ED so people with minor injury and non-critical illness may be seen in another clinic to get the care they need. This will also free up ED space and resources to manage the anticipated influx of COVID 19 related illness.

“We think our patients will understand the need and the efforts we are making to keep everyone safe” said Dr Clayden. “We feel the anxiety of the community at this time” said Ms Velzeboer. “We want them to be reassured that our ED is as well prepared as any. Fiona Stanley ED is a world class department and will continue to serve all of our patients well”.

Research is also critical to ensuring our ED is operating at world-class standards and the department is conducting research to investigate the reasons why some patients with COVID 19 respond poorly, whilst most do recover. ED consultant Associate Professor Glenn Arendts leads the research program and says the department was quick to respond to the need for immediate and real time research and data collection:

“The emergency department is the first place we see our critically ill Covid patients and we need to be ready to respond, not just with care, but considered assessment. We are well advanced in our plans to do the critical laboratory work to better understand the illness and trial new treatments for COVID patients” he said.

“Researchers and clinicians working together will defeat COVID 19, I’m sure of it”.