We all experienced lockdown during 2020 but the staff in 7 East also endured 227 days working behind closed doors in Austin Health's COVID-19 ward.
Nurse Unit Manager, Rosemary Interlandi, said the seven and a half months stint has brought her team closer together.
“We were all very scared to begin with. It was the fear of the unknown as we were all getting our heads around COVID-19 and the new processes”.
“I don’t think the bond we built during this time will ever be broken,” Rosemary said.
“We’ve became one big family with everyone doing whatever was needed for the patients.
“I’m just so very proud of all the staff. Their resilience and the fact that kept showing up every day even though they were scared, showed how committed and professional they are in caring for our community. We were determined to beat this disease,” she said.
While it has been a year of challenges, some special things have stood out.
“One of the highlights of the year was having 94-year-old Maureen Appleby be the very first person to be discharged from 7 East after coming to us with COVID-19,” Rosemary said.
“That happened all the way back in April last year and it was an amazing thing to see her wheeled out and able to go home to her family.
“The support we received from the community and other departments around Austin Health was also incredible. It was almost overwhelming and it meant so much to know people were supporting us all the way till the end!
“People contacted us from all over Victoria and the support we received made our scary time bearable,” she said.
Rosemary said that while the ward is getting back to business as usual their COVID-19 role is not over.
“We still have beds for suspected coronavirus cases, which means some staff are still wearing PPE and going through the same thorough cleaning process because it’s so important to maintain our standards.
"We hope that there is not another COVID-19 wave but if there is we will be ready to convert back to the dedicated COVID-19 Ward and do it all again!” she said.
“Ward 7 East want to say thank-you to the community for all of their support. We have appreciated all the gifts, cards and words of wisdom that have made coming to work just that little bit easier.
“We just want all of those who supported us to know they put a smile on our faces, even though you might not have been able to see it behind our masks!” Rosemary said.