30 March 2020
As an anaesthetic and post-anaesthesia care nurse, I am part of the frontline response team to intubate patients—putting a tube into a patient’s windpipe to help them breathe. There is a lot of training at work in how to don and doff PPE and we are being constantly updated as things change. It has now been discovered that healthcare workers overseas have contracted the virus from ineffective doffing—they have contaminated themselves. To avoid this, our intubating teams have a spotter to check that we are doing everything correctly.
05 April 2020
Australia now has 5,550 confirmed cases and 30 deaths—8 in Victoria.
I went into work on Friday to attend intensive care upskill training. This is very daunting for me as I am learning about new things in case I have to look after an intubated COVID-19 patient on a ventilator. There are lots of resources and support staff, so my anxiety levels ease a little.
20 April 2020
As of yesterday, Australia has 6,593 confirmed cases and 70 deaths—14 in Victoria.
No further deaths in our state in the last week which is great. My return to work from leave was busy as I had to bring myself up to date with all the preparations for COVID-19 cases. We now have a COVID emergency response team (COVERT) that will work for twelve-hour shifts. The team comprises an anaesthetist, second anaesthetist and an anaesthetic nurse. Where possible, the COVERT team will be the primary airway team for all intubations. I haven’t done a COVERT shift yet, but it was important for me to familiarise myself with what it will involve.
03 August 2020
As of yesterday, Australia has had 17,923 confirmed cases with 208 deaths—123 in Victoria.
We have 416 people in hospital in the state with 35 in ICU. The other staggering fact is that 706 healthcare workers have COVID and several of them are in ICU. This is truly scary, so making sure we know how to don and doff correctly is so important. Some have contracted the virus through community transmission so not from the workplace. I worked a twelve-hour COVERT shift on Saturday night and I had to attend ICU and assist with a COVID-19 intubation. It all went well and I was happy with my doffing protocol. Being there with someone so vulnerable who was having difficulty with their breathing was very humbling and made things more human and real than just seeing a number on a screen or paper.
31 August 2020
As of yesterday, Australia has had 25,670 confirmed cases with 611 deaths—524 in Victoria.
We are now wearing Level 4 PPE—N95 face mask, goggles, face shield and gown—on all intubations. After we have intubated the patient ready for surgery, we have a lockdown of ten minutes before anyone else can enter the theatre unless they are also wearing Level 4 PPE. After the ten minutes, the surgical team can enter in Level 3 PPE and surgery can begin. The increasing number of healthcare professionals acquiring COVID-19 is of concern, so these measures are for our own protection.
18 October 2021
As of yesterday, Australia has had 143,135 confirmed cases with 1,531 deaths—963 in Victoria.
We have 13 COVID-positive patients in our ICU and 92 in the hospital. The increase in numbers of ICU patients means staff from other areas are needed to help. There is a lot of anxiety amongst us as we have not had much time to prepare—the need to provide help has been so swift. The ICU staff are very appreciative of our help and are extremely supportive. I worked an extra shift last night and we had a COVID-19 case in the operating theatre. The state government is now going to provide a COVID-19 surge allowance, which is fantastic.
25 October 2021
As of yesterday, Australia has had 158,547 confirmed cases with 1,637 deaths—1,041 in Victoria.
Each shift at work, some non-ICU staff have to work in COVID ICU. When my turn came around last Friday, my emotional wellbeing was put to the test. I only worked there for one hour as I found it too confronting and overwhelming.
Everything was new and foreign. There was different donning and different computer documentation. There was pharmacy thumbprint dispensing, touchscreen ventilation and open floor plan nursing—none of which I was used to. I stepped away from this environment with the full support of the ICU educator and my superiors and, after some counselling, I went home. I remain quite emotional when I reflect on the experience but I tried and I know that the best place for me is my own familiar work environment.