18.5 C
Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Nurse speaks of virus impacts on hospitals

Latest News

Boat people we are

We here in this country, now called Australia, need to be reminded that we started off as ‘boat people’. The...

Other News

January 21 National Cabinet on Omicron, RATs, vax and treatments

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a media release about yesterday's meeting of the National Cabinet.

Free KYUP! Project workshops

Empowering our next generation to value and champion their safety and well being through self-worth and self-defence is the mission of the KYUP Project who are running free workshops in the Northern Rivers today and tomorrow.

Boat people we are

We here in this country, now called Australia, need to be reminded that we started off as ‘boat people’. The...

Bioenergy precaution

The notion of ‘Green Energy’ has recently excited business investors and no doubt the public. We need positive solutions...

Reform needed to deliver electric trucks in Australia

With the aim of getting more electric-powered trucks on Australian roads, the Electric Vehicle Council and the Australian Trucking Association have collaborated to develop the policies necessary to drive Australian trucking into an electric future.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Emergency response for our emergency responders

We need our nurses. Right now, they are the most important workforce in the country. Not politicians or real estate agents or tradies or miners. Nurses. Paramedics. Hospital doctors.

This was lunch for thousands of Australians during the Christmas COVID boom. Photo Eve Jeffery

Late in the evening on December 31, while many were out celebrating the end of a trying year, NSW Health issued a media release saying that asymptomatic healthcare workers who are classified as ‘close contacts’ will, in exceptional circumstances, be permitted to leave self-isolation so these key services are not disrupted.

Under the exemption, healthcare workers who have been identified by their employer as critical to the service, must travel directly to, and from, their residence to their workplace. 

The rest of us have had it drummed into us that close contacts needed to isolate for 14, then ten days, and more recently seven days, and social media has been deluged with photos of breakfast trays outside bedroom doors as the COVID boom hit over Christmas.

The exemption is to ‘ensure continued delivery of essential health services’. Surprisingly, the health system hasn’t broken. Yet.

Government too busy looking after business interests

A local critical care nurse spoke to The Echo. Owing to strict laws around speaking out as a government employee, the nurse spoke to The Echo anonymously.   

‘The government has got no commitment to a greater public good. I think that they are too busy looking after business interests to give a damn about the fact that public health only works when all of our most vulnerable people are included’.

‘I think that that they have failed us on a multitude of things that they should have attended to’. 

This nurse says they do feel safe in the workplace.

‘I actually feel safer at work than going to the supermarket, even when I’m caring for COVID-positive patients’.

The wonderful clinicians

The nurse said that what hospitals are lacking in resources, they make up for with wonderful clinicians.

‘We don’t have enough isolation and safe rooms. I feel concern for other patients who might not have COVID-19. We don’t have good enough ventilation, and we’re all sharing the same air conditioning, suspected COVID-19 or positive COVID-19 cases – we don’t have enough places to treat those people, to examine and clear for them – without exposing other people to risk.’

They also said that most, if not all, clinicians are working more hours.

Working above contracted hours

‘I’ve have worked up to 80 and 90 hours a fortnight. I come in early for a night shift and end up staying late and working 16 hours instead of ten. Everybody is working above their contracted hours.’

‘Staff are working a lot more hours, and shifts are still not fully staffed.’

Are the patients safe? The nurse says nearly every emergency department in NSW has a marquee in the car park.

‘If you think you have COVID-19, you have to go and wait outside in the car park, but the marquees are often not staffed by anyone. It means that you have patients now that have presented for care who’ve been sent outside who haven’t been seen by a nurse and might wait for some time. Once assessed as stable there’s often limited observation. The unstable COVID-19 come into the department because we have to provide care – we can’t not provide care.

‘To date, we are keeping people safe and we want people to come to hospital if they’re sick, we’re just worried about how we will maintain this.’

Terrifying watching this unravel

The nurse says that, as a clinician, they don’t feel concern for themselves, but as a community member, they are terrified. ‘I care greatly about the health of our whole community, and the robustness of our health system. It’s terrifying watching this unravel. I do feel like I doom scroll a lot because I am looking at the numbers and they’re completely meaningless. We already know that many testing sites were closed over Christmas. We’ve got a greater than 20 per cent positive rate from the PCR tests, which means we’re completely screwed. It’s the biggest growth in numbers across the world at the moment. I feel concerned on the macro level.’

The nurse said they feel some staff are coping better than others.

‘I think all of us are anxious – really anxious and stressed. All of us are exhausted, but, mostly we’re hanging in there. We laugh a lot. We make a lot of really bad jokes. We roll our eyes like Angela Merkel. I think clinicians are really good at informal debriefing – certainly, there is no time to do formal debriefing.

‘We do a lot of collective hand waving and saying “What the…?” ‘


Recent stories, information and updates regarding COVID-19

January 21 National Cabinet on Omicron, RATs, vax and treatments

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a media release about yesterday's meeting of the National Cabinet.


Biz step up to feed frontline staff

Local paramedics will be able to get free coffee and snacks at selected local cafes, as part of a major community effort to support frontline health workers during the ongoing and increasing COVID-19 outbreak.


Hospitals under strain

With ever increasing pressure on health services across the nation and locally, how are health staff coping – and are there enough ICU beds and ventilators to cope with the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases?


1,114 cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Rivers in last 24...

The Northern NSW Local Health District say that to 8pm yesterday, January 17, there were confirmed 1,114 new PCR cases of COVID-19.


The Greens launch NurseKeeper for nurses and paramedics

The Greens have written to the Premier to ask him to immediately introduce ‘NurseKeeper’ to urgently introduce pandemic pay and bonuses for nurses and paramedics. 


Lung specialist ‘we’re doing the best we can’ and Hazzard lays...

At this morning's COVID-19 update press conference, Concord and Nepean Hospitals lung specialist Dr Lucy Morgan gave an update on COVID-19. Dr Morgan says she works as part of a team of people looking after patients with COVID.


Northern NSW Local Health District COVID update for January 14

The Northern NSW Local Health District reports that to 8pm last night, January 13, there were 905 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the District – this figure does not include positive rapid antigen tests (RAT) for the reporting period.


Record breaking day of COVID deaths as Hillsong sings and dances...

As New South Wales breaks another COVID record with 29 lives lost in a single day, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet spoke to the media this morning with an update on the pandemic.


The PM’s report from the National Cabinet meeting yesterday

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has released a media statement about the meeting yesterday of the National Cabinet.


What do you do next if you test positive to COVID?

With more than a third of callers to the National Coronavirus Helpline asking about isolation, healthdirect has launched a guide to help those who are COVID-19 positive know what they should do while isolating at home and when to seek medical help.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. I cannot express enough my admiration and greatfulness to our heroic and compassionate Health workers, thank you all for your care and sacrifice.
    I too, am increasingly despairing of the outrageous neglect of the community by Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet’s govermnents.
    I hope I live through this catastrophe long enough to tell them so at the ballot box.

  2. Very greatful for your big hearts. Thanks also to their family’s who are missing out on precious family time due to extended shifts. Bless you all.

  3. Those people who chose not to get vaccinated are the very ones that are blocking up the system. These people selfishly have taken NO action to protect themselves and are now taking beds and resources from people in genuine need. The heroes in the medical fraternity have to give all equal treatment to all, when many have brought ill health on themselves.
    The country would have enough resources to support all those that had made the unselfish measure of getting vaccinated, but now find that age and underlying medical issues require them to seek medical support.
    I feel extremely sorry for nurses that have to deal with ill people whose non action has led them to now ask for help and support. In my mind it’s tantamount to having to deal with battered bodies in car accidents when people refuse to wear their seat belts.

    • Chris Hill has correctly identified the moral hazard issue of our time.

      I have raised it with my MP, asking her what she will do to ensure vaccinated people who succumb to covid do not get left untreated in hospital hallways and carparks while those unvaccinated by choice get treated in a hospital bed or ICU. Janelle’s response is to ignore my question, about ICU triage should ICU be overwhelmed, with a response that we “treat all” and she supports that. That is, compete refusal to answer my question, preferring to support the status quo of people unvaccinated by choice being treated ahead of vaccinated people. I have the screenshots of this dialogue with Janelle where she refuses to grapple with the issue of ICU triage and vaccinated status

      This is an appalling lack of leadership by Janelle Saffin, not worthy of a place in our parliament.

      • I’m sorry Shane but that is a very unrealistic problem put to your local member, obviously asked to put her in a corner where either answer is wrong. How about asking that to local nat federal member hogan or your favourite pork barreller Franklin. I think the evidence about unvaccinated treated over vaccinated is a furphy, next are you proposing smokers with cancer are not treated etc. I think you would find triage decisions are made by the hospital not the local member. Wedging politics displayed here are indicative of the Tory government both at state and federal level. Very shallow.

      • She is obviously one of those people who doesn’t agree with holding a principle lest she may upset someone or they may not vote for her. If she looked hard at the statistics, over 90% of the population have made the effort to protect their health and the community. I would guess that the majority would feel that should get some sort of priority if their health deteriorated, over people who have been genuinely self centred. But then; Janelle probably believes it doesn’t matter if you won or lost, it’s taking part which is important. Dead losers

  4. Not a lot to say except that apart from Saffin’s non answer it’s a tough call. We are
    going through a different ‘war of worlds’ & to expect a reply to balance all is damn
    near impossible. We cannot & should not turn non-believers away let alone their
    often extended family who’ve had the jabs. Decisions are running head-on & I’ve
    known some anti-vaxers to do a ‘turn around.’ Many are doing that now while
    a life for a life can’t be supported. Personally, I could not live with that decision.
    Having said that, I will state what I believe to be the truth & say ‘Get it over & done
    with. Grow up.’


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Israel and Palestine

As an apologist for Israel, Michael Burd (Letters, 12 January) conveniently ignores the harsh truth of Israel’s brutal oppression, while claiming there are two...

Greens Mandy Nolan to hold community forum in support of nurses and paramedics

Locally and across the state nurses, and paramedics are struggling in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as they are being asked to do double shifts and manage effectively in health system that is struggling to cope. This has led to an increasing number of nurses and paramedics resigning.

NSW COVID update on COVID deaths – vax stats and comorbidities

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet again opened his COVID update with condolences to families who have lost loved ones, and thanks to the  ‘inspirational work of our health workers'.

January 21 National Cabinet on Omicron, RATs, vax and treatments

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a media release about yesterday's meeting of the National Cabinet.