Some of Ipswich’s brightest minds work on solutions to COVID-19 problems

Some of Ipswich’s leading researchers are preparing both frontline healthcare professionals and providing guidance to high level policy makers.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a game-changer as health professionals from all areas are focusing on combatting COVID-19 and look at the complex impacts of the disease on healthcare workers as well as the community as a whole.

Sprinfield’s Griffith University Research Fellow Dr Yoriko Kikkawa will identify safety risks emerging during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine the most effective responses.

Dr Kikkawa has been awarded an Advance Queensland Fellowship that aims to prepare frontline healthcare professionals working with infectious patients during pandemics such as COVID-19.

The three-year collaborative project between the Griffith Institute for Educational Research and Mater Education is set to both provide instant preparedness for clinical staff, as well as contribute to long-term educational research.

“This project will use simulation training to examine how teams of doctors and nurses integrate COVID-19 protocols into existing practices for medical emergencies, and how they affect performance under pressure,’’ Dr Kikkawa said.

“It will help doctors and nurses improve infection control practices and reduce in-hospital transmission among staff and patients.”

The research will benefit healthcare workers across Queensland where access to education is limited and provide opportunities to improve training programs for other emergency medical response and transport services such as Queensland Ambulance Service and the Royal Flying Doctors.

Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research Director Professor John McGrath

Policy and Epidemiology Group leader Professor Harvey Whiteford

West Moreton’s leading mental health researchers will fly the flag for Queensland in Australia’s first mental health think tank.

Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research Director Professor John McGrath and Policy and Epidemiology Group leader Professor Harvey Whiteford are among 11 experts invited to join the COVID-19 Mental Health Response Independent Think Tank.

The think tank, led by the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre and funded by the BHP Foundation, will bring together a broad range of expertise to consider evidence-based mental health policy as part of the national response to COVID-19.

National mental health leaders, experts in disaster response, those with lived experience, policy development and industry representatives, including digital technology experts, will consider the complex impacts of COVID-19 on unemployment, social dislocation and mental health.

West Moreton Health chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman congratulated the pair on their appointment to the think tank, and for their ongoing support for mental health recovery through evidence-based research.

“The challenge of the global pandemic is making sure that we are prepared for both the immediate health needs and the future needs of the community given the long-lasting and evolving nature of the pandemic,” Dr Freeman said.

Issues the COVID-19 Mental Health Response Independent Think Tank will address include:

  • the collection of high-quality data on the mental health effects of COVID-19 across the population and vulnerable groups
  • the capacity of Australian systems to respond to the medium-and longer-term mental health consequences of the pandemic and future pandemics or critical incidents
  • the capacity required to provide a national digital health response to anticipated mental health consequences.

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