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Dental staff contribute to COVID-19 response

Sydney Dental staff step up help at COVID-19 vaccination centres   


August 2021


Hannah-Dunn-Web.png


Story credit: Clare Mathie, Sydney Local Health District
Photo credit: Supplied by Hannah Dunn


Dentist Hannah Dunn has a new job – for now.

“I’m contributing where help is needed. I’m helping to get people vaccinated against COVID-19,” she said.

Hannah, 26, usually works at Sydney Dental Hospital which is one of two major providers of public oral health services in NSW.

Now, she is one of more than 100 clinical staff from the Hospital who have joined Sydney Local Health District’s on-going response to the pandemic.

She has been trained to administer COVID-19 vaccinations and has been deployed to work at the NSW Health Vaccination Centre at Sydney Olympic Park.

“I miss dentistry but we’re needed here at the moment. It’s satisfying to be able to contribute in this way,” Dr Dunn said.

Close to 50 of the Hospital’s dentists have been deployed to give COVID-19 vaccinations and six Oral Health Therapists are set to join them once their training has been completed.

Another 50 dental staff –including Dental Assistants – have been trained to prepare the vaccine before it’s able to be administered.

Dr Amelita Simpson, the Hospital’s Acting Head of Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine and Dento-maxillofacial Radiology, is among them. She’s worked at Sydney Dental Hospital for the past 32 years. 

“We need to be able to go back to the ‘new normal’, and to do that we need as many people as possible to be vaccinated. So, if I can help in any way I will,” Dr Simpson, who has been trained to reconstitute and administer COVID-19 vaccines, said.

She’s based at the Vaccination Centre at Sydney Olympic Park while others are at RPA and at a clinic at Canterbury Hospital set up to immunise eligible hospital patients, their families and carers.

Meanwhile, her colleagues are also on deck at COVID-19 Testing Clinics, including dentist Dr Rachael Elias who now works at the Central Railway Station COVID-19 Clinic.

Ordinarily she’s caring for Aboriginal patients at the Dalarinji Oral Health Clinic.

“It’s different to what I usually do.  I’m very happy to be able to be of value during these challenging times. The willingness of staff to help has been amazing and speaks to the resilience and kindness of people,” Dr Elias said.

Dental staff also carry out COVID-19 surveillance testing for other health care workers and have been seconded to Special Health Accommodation.

“We’re proud of all our dedicated staff at Sydney Dental Hospital and the way in which they’ve stepped up to contribute to the District’s COVID-19 response,” Dr Jason Cheng, the Hospital’s General Manager, said.

The Hospital continues to provide acute and emergency dental health care. 

For the latest information about COVID-19, please visit: www.health.nsw.gov.au/COVID-19.

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