I strongly recall surge planning with the St John of God Health Care Intensive Care/ Emergency Department Group team and realising how short staffed we would be if we peaked at predicted volumes.
I put out a plea to my ICU team requesting any additional hours and support. I was amazed and humbled, my phone instantly rang with nursing caregivers offering full time and beyond to assist.
They all had every opportunity to politely decline and stay home safe with their families but they chose to dig in for the team and increase hours.
In retrospect to anyone reading this now 12 months later, with the knowledge and understanding that Australia’s impact wouldn’t be that of Europe, then this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. In March 2020, this was a big deal! From that day on, I knew we were going to be ok no matter how things played out.
St John of God Berwick Hospital was tasked to take on aged care residents to assist in the recovery. From this Langmore Centre was re-accredited to assist in the care of residents in a supportive and caring environment, removed from the clinical setting of hospitals.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to support in the Langmore Centre. It was here I met an incredible woman Janet McAllister. Janet was the Nurse Unit Manager tasked with orientating, on boarding, and settling in new caregivers and residents simultaneously. As more residents were relocated from St John of God Berwick Hospital to Langmore, the hospital Chief Executive Officer Lisa Norman was present after dark welcoming the residents. Not welcoming with a general wave or photo opportunity, but individually greeting residents by name and conversing about their families and interests, making sure they were comfortable in their new ‘home’.
For me and my fellow colleagues who travelled to Langmore to assist, leaving behind our families for a couple of weeks it was challenging. The opportunity to help colleagues, residents and also witness some memorable individual acts of kindness was very special and rewarding.
Work in Geelong and Berwick was stressful, but each day as a health care professional you have an endpoint, a time to look forward to when you can go home. Yes it is work, but it is a change of environment and an opportunity to socialise.
My biggest appreciation through COVID-19 goes to my wife and all of the other parents who held their families together. To have no end point or break, taking on the task of home schooling each day, entertaining young kids and sheltering them from the unnecessary stress while hoping that the ‘11am update’ would bring some news of an end – that is far more challenging than anything I was able to do.
My advice is to be appreciative, be kind, and focus on the good things that come of a bad situation.
Caregivers of COVID
The Caregivers of COVID series shares the stories and experiences at St John of God Health Care that made most of 2020 so extraordinary.