Frontline heroes series part 3: nurses rise to the challenge

Nurses rise to the challenge

Redcliffe Hospital COVID ward Nurse Unit Manager Robyn Easton is proud of the way the whole hospital team has pulled together to rise to the challenges they have faced during the past two years.

Robyn has nursed at Redcliffe Hospital for seven years, taking on the role as Nurse Unit Manager in 2020 just before the pandemic took off.

“The biggest thing has been responding to constant change,” she says.

“When it started in 2020, we didn’t know what to expect. Being able to adapt to changes on the fly, that’s something that nurses are quite good at generally.”

Until the recent wave, she said the team had been able to carry out their regular work with “COVID in the background”, with just the occasional patient testing positive.

“That has changed in the last month,” she says.

The team has had to move two medical wards in order to create two designated COVID-19 wards, with 40 beds in total.

“The teamwork and the support from the Redcliffe Hospital community has been extraordinary. Everyone has gone above and beyond to transition into this new space,” Robyn says.

She manages a team of about 30 nurses who have taken on extra shifts to meet demand.

“They’re working really hard,” she says.

They have transferred from other units to the COVID-19 unit, working in full PPE each shift.

“It’s quite hot. Often, we come out of those units and our clothes are wet,” Robyn says.

The hospital has been providing additional uniforms to ensure nurses can change and are as comfortable as they can be under the circumstances.

Nurses rally to get job done

While the team is tired, they are taking it in their stride.

“Nurses are used to having periods of time when they are exceptionally busy. It’s about working together and taking care of each other’s wellbeing as well,” Robyn says.

She says it has been rewarding to help the community throughout the pandemic.

“We’re acutely aware that our patients are not allowed to have visitors. We’re the only people that they’re seeing, as well as the medical team, on an ongoing basis,” Robyn explains.

“We’re providing care to them and speaking with families to reduce their anxiety, keeping them updated, being that kind voice and just providing that gentle care for our patients.”

It is care that patients and their families have appreciated, with the team receiving letters and heartfelt thanks.

Her message to the community is to keep doing what they are being asked to do – get vaccinated and stay at home if they are unwell to protect themselves and others. This in turn reduces the number of hospital admissions and strain on the team.

“We’re just here doing our jobs. This is what we’ve always done. This is what we do every day. It’s just a heightened environment because this is a pandemic but we’re happy to do it,” she says.

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