Working together to beat COVID-19
Jacqui Harper, Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) COVID Ward 20 at Northern Hospital Epping, spoke at the Victorian Premier’s COVID-19 media conference on Sunday, along with Michelle Spence, NUM Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH).
Jacqui and Michelle were invited to help spread the word on the importance of being fully vaccinated.
‘‘COVID-19 is a terrible illness,’’ Jacqui said.
‘‘The patients we see coming into our hospitals are seriously, seriously ill. The clinical deterioration is so sudden.’’
Jacqui said she’s witnessed patients go from “sitting in a chair one minute” to saying their goodbyes an hour later.
“They find it difficult to breathe, some needing oxygen, ventilators and ICU support.”
Jacqui said many patients had expressed regret at not being vaccinated.
She said the hospital saw many anti-vax patients, and their families change their mind once they realised how dangerous COVID-19 is.
“By then, it’s too late. COVID is real, it’s affecting younger age groups and it’s scary,’’ she said.
Michelle Spence, RMH ICU Nurse Unit Manager, said she had seen patients in their 20s and 30s.
“Last week, I saw a 30-year-old, with no past history, put on a ventilator. He didn’t get vaccinated and now he’s on life support.”
She said nurses who have never worked in the ICU are putting up their hand and working on the ward after just four days of training.
Michelle said healthcare workers were braced for a ‘‘tough time” between now and Christmas.
“I know you’re over it,’’ she said. “We’re over it. It’s going to be a tough few months.”
Echoing her sentiments, Jacqui said, “To be a nurse right now? Very challenging when the community is not getting vaccinated.”
“The three vaccines are safe, effective and your best form of protection against this virus. It protects you from hospitalisation – please get vaccinated.”
“Our nurses, doctors, allied health and support staff are professional and dedicated – all working as a team,” Jacqui said.
“I’m extremely proud of them for their unwavering commitment to keeping our patients safe.”
In concluding the media conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, “You have to go and book an appointment today – for yourself, for the people you love, for the people that love you, for people who you’ll never meet, for heroes like Jacqui and Michelle and the many thousands like them. If you respect our nurses, if you value them and the work that they do, then let’s not make their job any harder – let’s instead get vaccinated.”
Featured image: L-R Michelle Spence, NUM Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and Jacqui Harper, Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) COVID Ward 20 at Northern Hospital Epping.