On the disease control frontline

Dr Vicki Krause

Life changed for Dr Vicki Krause on 9 January when, as Director of the Top End Health Service Centre for Disease Control, she was notified of a potential pandemic.

That kicked off several months of 12-plus-hour consecutive days as Vicki and her team worked to position the NT to face COVID-19.

The work included daily teleconferences with colleagues nationally and internationally to define the disease, collect and process masses of information, disseminate the correct information, and bring clinicians along on the journey – not to mention setting up the information hotline for the hundreds of calls coming in from the public and healthcare providers.

Although Vicki has extensive experience in communicable diseases, including SARS, responding to COVID-19 was an eye-opener.

"There's always something new to learn – getting to do and learn things you've never done, or would have ever thought possible," she said.

"For example, [I] could now comfortably run a call centre!"

Vicki said the NT, despite its size, has pulled off an amazing feat in responding to the pandemic, and keeping people safe.

"I'm extremely proud of the team. Nobody ever said 'I can't…'," she said.

"People can do amazing things apart from what they do every day in their jobs."

Vicki was impressed by people's resilience and resourcefulness in setting up in record time completely new services and clinics for the safe screening and care for patients and for attending to those in those isolation because of their disease and close contacts competing their quarantine.

"Everyone – staff and cases, people quarantining – wanted to do the right thing."

She's learned that she has more stamina than she ever imagined, that there is so much more to learn even in spite of a long career – and "how satisfying and important it is to bring all of the experience you have in 'solving the problems'."

Dr Vicki Krause with Kelly Lomas (bottom left), Emma Childs (top right) and Peter Markey (bottom right).

Last updated: 23 June 2020

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