Exhausted health worker paints a harrowing picture of life and death inside Victoria’s Covid ICUs where nurses are bleeding from their ears and sobbing into each other’s shoulders
An exhausted health worker has detailed the harrowing conditions in Victoria’s Covid ICU wards as they battle the state’s Delta outbreak.
Kylie Fisher witnessed the devastating impacts of the virus first hand on both patients and colleagues at Melbourne’s Western Health hospital in St Albans, where she is the critical care outreach services manager.
Last year, there were more than 400 coronavirus-infected patients admitted to the hospital, with numbers again on the rise as the state grapples a new outbreak.
Critical Care Outreach Services Manager Kylie Fisher (pictured) has detailed the harrowing pressures faced by health care workers in Victoria’s Covid ICU wards
Ms Fisher said healthcare workers were mentally and physically distressed as they worked arduous 12 hour shifts caring for severely ill patients during the state’s deadly second Covid wave last year.
‘They would often come to me overwhelmed,’ Ms Fisher told reporters on Monday. ‘I saw tears, I saw exhaustion, I saw nurses consoling nurses.
‘I saw blood across the ridges of their noses and ears for wearing PPE for 12 hours at a time. Long shifts on their feet, kilometres and kilometres they clock up responding to emergency calls, and calls for assistance on the wards.
‘They would go home after 12-hour shifts, long shifts, they would have showers before they would leave work, they would drive home, get changed in their garages and have another shower before they got in.’
Ms Fisher said nurses live in constant worry about how to look after patients while balancing the need to protect themselves and their families from the virus.
Many were disturbed by how many fit and healthy Victorians were struck down by the illness.
‘They would come to work worried about how they would support their colleagues on the wards, looking after overwhelming numbers of acutely unwell patients,’ she said.
‘They would come to me and they would say: “Kylie, it’s like nothing we have ever seen before. The patients are young and fit, and the next minute they’re well, and the next minute, we’re taking them to ICU”.
Ms Fisher said nurses were pushed to mental and physical limits during the state’s deadly second wave last year. Pictured: Health care workers at a drive through vaccination centre in Melbourne
Ms Fisher said she was worried she would going to have to ‘ask them to stand up and do it again’ as infections continue to surge, with the state recording 73 new Covid cases on Monday.
Although her staff will willingly answer the call, she urged Victorians to get vaccinated and follow the Covid restrictions so frontline workers will not face such challenging conditions again.
‘They’ve done it all before, and I have to probably ask them to do it all again. They will but they shouldn’t have to,’ she said.
‘We’re lucky, we’ve got science, we’ve got a vaccine, so I’m asking, please, if you haven’t already, get yourself vaccinated.
‘Keep yourselves safe, keep your family and your loved ones safe. Keep the community safe.’
Of the state’s new cases, 21 were in insolation and up to 49 may have been infectious in the community.
As Victoria endures its sixth gruelling lockdown, Health Minister Martin Foley said there was ‘every indication’ the public health rules were starting to kick in.
He said ‘the situation has, we hope, plateaued’, but warned there would not be a map like during Victoria’s deadly second wave last year.