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Wendy—Registered nurse
Pre-operative clinic
Regional Victoria

COVID broke out in the city
It took its time coming to our river town
and our hospital
Volunteers stopped volunteering
People were scared to come to emergency
Relatives, carers and loved ones weren’t allowed to visit
The hospital was quiet
All of us waiting for an influx of COVID patients


At our pre-operative clinic emails ramped up
as the postal service slowed down
phone calls replaced face-to-face consults

Tell me your medical and surgical history

Your current meds

Your social history

Your family or friends who’ll support you on discharge

Your contact with COVID, your possible symptoms

I’ll tell you

The tests you need

The things you can expect, before and after

The PCR requirements—three days

before surgery and isolation until admission


Non-urgent surgery was cancelled

We put in calls to those on our list

I know you had to wait more than ninety days

Now it is even longer



New healthcare announcements and rules rolled in usually on a Friday or after four on weekdays when the prep work for the next day’s surgical list was complete
Calls were made late to patients

Your surgery tomorrow has been cancelled

I’m sorry we can’t tell you

when it will be rescheduled, we’ll ring you

Sorry if you’ve organised time off work

Sorry your carer has changed their work

to assist you on discharge

So sorry arrangements for the care

of your loved ones will have to be changed

Yes, I know you have children with

special needs

I know you need to travel two hours

for the tests again


Patients started cancelling too
for fear, for the border, for confusion
Conversations again over the phone

Please don’t cancel your surgery

It’s medical, it’s important

Please go online to get your border permit

before you travel

Please allow more time to cross

Please still come across

Yes, I know it’s hard but it’s doable


I knew what people were feeling
I understood the loss of control
The need for faith in others
The acute fear and anxiety of the elderly
The isolation
Like so many others, I lived across the border
And the different rules swirled around us
like the water we crossed


COVID came to us six months after it gripped
the city (bar two unique cases—one a cruise
tourist, one from a city hospital)
Less quiet in the hospital
More patients
More staff sick and away
For the very ill, more transfers to the larger hospitals
And still the fear, restrictions, remote care
Sorry. Please. I know.