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Barwon Health stepping up!

When you work in an emergency department the consequences can be life and death on any given day.

Add in the extra challenge of fighting a global pandemic from the front line, and you could certainly understand if the staff let their job totally consume them at a time like this.

But that’s not the case at Barwon Health’s Emergency Department in Geelong.

Throughout this COVID pandemic, the staff have found ways to connect with each other and stay healthy – mentally and physically.

And one way they have done it is through physical activity.

When Active Geelong caught up with one employee from the Department this week, Dr. Minnie Seward, it was inspiring to hear about a ‘Step Challenge’ the staff had embraced and how much joy it had brought them in such a difficult time.

Over 150 people jumped on board the challenge, which involved logging enough steps to complete a virtual walk from Port Douglas to Hobart in six weeks.

The staff – from nurses to physicians to cleaners – formed teams of 10 and tracked their steps using the activity tracking app ‘10,000 steps’.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with it,” Minnie said.

“It’s been a really positive thing to do, in and out of the workplace, and it’s brought us together.”

Along the virtual journey, the app has provided ‘check points’ for the teams to reach and track their progress throughout Australia, and individuals can see what percentage of the journey their steps have personally contributed.

“Obviously travel is impossible at the moment, so none of us are going on a real holiday any time soon,” Minnie said.

“So this is at least one little way we can bring that sense of travel to the staff.”

Not surprisingly, Minnie described the pandemic as ‘challenging’.

“It’s obviously brought a lot of changes to the way we do things, so it hasn’t been easy working conditions,” she said.

“But we have an incredible team and we love working with each other, so it’s been inspiring to see what we have been able to accomplish.”

Part of Minnie’s role is linked to the wellness of the Department’s staff.

“Because of the COVID restrictions, the usual outlets for people to deal with stress – going out for a drink or having people over for a BBQ on the weekend – haven’t been there,” Minnie said.

“So it’s been nice to do something that gives us that social connection,” she said.

“People are talking about the challenge on their breaks and setting up message groups with their teams to encourage each other.

“People have said that it has made them a lot more active than they always would have been, and we’ve had people losing weight and getting a lot fitter.

“So it’s just brought a little bit of cheer, and it’s helped us do our job well.”