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ICU Clinical Support Nurse, Hannah Skidmore, is in two minds about the state starting to ease restrictions this week.
“On the one hand, I’m excited to see my family, but there’s the nurse in me that goes, oh my god, what’s going to happen?” she says.
“The unknown is such a challenge – it’s not just about how long, it’s also about the patients, how much will they be affected?”
Hannah has worked in ICU for five years and believes the past 18 months have been the most challenging to date.
While there was a lot of apprehension and anxiety about the virus last year, the ICU was at a manageable level with the number of COVID positive patients.
This year it’s a different story.
“It has hit us quite significantly,” Hannah says.
“Last year we only closed one pod and now we’ve got two pods that are full of positive patients, who are all very, very sick.
“I almost wish we could bring the public in and walk them through the ICU, I almost wish people could see what it’s like.”
The ICU has had to adapt and change in response to the increasing demand, including safety changes and the operation of the unit on a day to day basis.
An additional 40 nurses with no ICU experience have also been trained to assist, bringing the total number on the redeployment list to 85.
ICU staff have saliva tests daily and nasal swabs weekly when working in the COVID pods.
“It’s been a massive shift in the way we do things,” Hannah says.
“You can see how hard everyone else is working and it’s inspiring. It’s about the patients and that’s why we come to work every day. Having a sense of team is the one of the only ways we can get through this, to be honest.”
Hannah’s message for the community is simple.
“ICU is not where you want to be,” she says.
“I would encourage anyone, if you’re eligible, to get vaccinated.
“I don’t know how it’s going to be when we open up – part of me is terrified. But being on the other side, getting vaccinated seems a small price pay.”