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BSC Update From The Front Line

Marc Gibson had a socially distanced check in with womens player Georgia Randall, a registered Nurse at 6 East in the Alfred to see how she is finding the front line of the Victorian Covid respionse. You can usually find Georgia in the surgical ward specializing in gastrointestinal surgeries.

How is the work?

Things honestly haven’t changed a whole heap since the first “wave" of covid. I’m working on the same ward, however we have been shifted again due to the acuity of our patents. All the surgeries i see are what’s called category one so luckily for me i won’t be redeployed to an aged care home as announced by Dan Andrews recently.

My ward is made up majority of immunocompromised people so therefore I’m not dealing with covid positive patients and where possible we don’t have any suspected cases on our ward. In saying this, it puts a fair bit of pressure on the nurses working on the ward to be extremely cautious in their personal lives too. These people would almost certainly die being unable to fight covid in their current conditions. For this reason I’m hardly leaving the house! Not even for a run- so if I’m unfit for preseason next year that’s my excuse!

Whats the situation with PPE?

Regarding protective equipment I’ve been wearing a mask to work for the last 3 weeks throughout the duration of my shift! Some of which have been 14 hours long! If you’re having a whinge about wearing one down to the shops my ears don’t want to hear it!

How have you been affected by Covid?

Not sure whether to use scare tactics here but unfortunately for me i don’t have any positive covid stories so will go with this- my pop passed away last month (death unrelated to covid) and it meant there were only 10 at the funeral and i wasn’t able to say bye to him. That was obviously devastating and has driven me to ensure I’m playing my part in the community to ensure i do the right thing.

Any advice for the Beaumaris Soccer Club Community?

I hope everyone is staying really safe and not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary. To use a soccer analogy we’re only as good as the worst player on the pitch!!

Lets keep fighting this together. It's important we all still stay connected and be positive in what’s been a challenging few weeks for us Victorians.

Bonus Content!

We also had a check in with an ex Beauy womens player, under 7-18 and ex team mate of Georgia, Dr Lauren Richards to see how the covid situation is being handled in Sydney.

Here is Laurens Synopsis of the sitiuation.

I am in my third year working as a doctor and currently based at hospital in central Sydney. It is fair to say there has been significant changes to my job in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It all started with an obsession with the John Hopkin’s map, whatsapp messages of firsthand accounts from overseas and a barrage of memos from the hospital’s executive about all the new changes to prepare for the oncoming ‘wave’ (interestingly, recent data from the WHO shows that the virus doesn’t have seasonal variation like the flu and instead the wave is more of an ever rising peak). We were limited on how we could deliver oxygen (anything that aerosolised virus particles and blasted them around the room was out) even the way we would perform CPR changed (sorry unresponsive patient can you just hang on a sec? I got to put on my gown, gloves, mask and goggles. Thanks for not complaining about the delay!)

A new ICU dedicated to COVID was constructed in a week (Bayside council please take note) and two wards were cleared of their patients (I assume room was found for them in another part of the hospital and they weren’t just wheeled out onto the street). Elective operations were put on hold and all the COVID negative, high-risk elderly patients were moved to an isolated building down the road for their protection.

I was working in the cardiology department at the time and with the fear of COVID keeping those who were having chest pain at home with the hopes it wasn’t a heart attack and just a bit of reflux, my patient list and corresponding workload halved. I appreciated the easing of my life on the wards but it was quickly overshadowed by the additional overtime required to staff the new screening clinic (also appreciated was the local restaurants and cafés supplying lunch in return for some social media good will, unfortunately as the likes lessened so did the supply of free food).

At first the clinics were restricted to swabbing only symptomatic returned travellers and close contacts of cases. The clinics were long, dull, and solely involved entering the personal details of sniffly cruise passengers into a computer to assist with contact tracing. The hospital soon realised it didn’t need to pay doctors’ wages for a medical data entry position and the clinics became nurse led (thank god for nurses!).

I do recall having an encounter with a ‘Karen’ in one of my shifts (they aren’t just found endlessly wandering the streets of Brighton). My Karen made sure we were all well aware that she had driven to the clinic in her Mercedes from her home in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. When refused a test she started threatening legal action against myself, the other staff, RPA hospital and all of NSW health if she didn’t get a swab (her son was employed at some prestigious law firm but even then that would be a significant case load). Karen swore that if she didn’t receive a swab she would certainly die from the virus given her immunocompromised state (a fundamental misunderstanding that the test is not a cure could not be corrected). We eventually relented, more because it wasn’t worth the police's time to escort her from the premises. On her departure, Karen made sure blame all the Asian staff personally for the existence of COVID – 19.

If I’m honest, I sincerely hope she hated the experience of having the nasopharynx scrubbed for viral particles.

Following cardiology I was redeployed to the 'pandemic response team' covering the general COVID wards that cared for patients who were either not sick enough to require ICU level care or were for palliation in the case they deteriorated (the very old and very sick to begin with). My job was relatively simple.

Patients were quarantined in their own rooms or with their partner. The daily rounds consisted of a knock on the glass, a wave, and a game of charades. Each conversation (conducted over the phone) was the same: Do you have trouble breathing? Do you have a cough? Any sputum? What colour? How about any chest pain? Many couldn’t speak English so our daily chats involved a conference call with a translator (expect a 30 minute wait time for the next available slot). If required, I would enter the room in my PPE have a quick listen to the chest with a stethoscope and take some blood for a test.

My experience on the COVID wards was certainly nothing like my colleagues in Italy, the UK and the US. No-one died from COVID while I was there, at worse they suffered from a temperature, a cough and the supreme boredom of being trapped in a hospital room for 14 days alone with no entertainment.

The only time there was any action was if the confused elderly patient went for a stroll around the ward (the concept of quarantine is difficult to understand if you can't remember the current year, your address or anything that occurred in the last two minutes). You just had to quickly shepherd them back to their rooms before they contaminated every surface on the ward. I felt more like a blue plastic border collie than a doctor.

Currently I’m fulfilling more of an administration role, working with the media unit. We try to combat the spread of misinformation about the virus and help the public have a calmer, less hysterical response to the current uncontrolled community spread in NSW.

I also work in the new virtual hospital to provide medical care for our 300 returned international travellers and vulnerable positive patients currently quarantining in our nurse run ‘health hotels’. As the on call doctor you provide a ‘virtual clinical review’ and hopefully keep people out of hospital. I understand why the service is important, but it feels a bit how I imagine working in a call centre would be.

Unfortunately, I think COVID is here to stay (just like the ugly bricks at the art centre). The unprecedented will just become precedent. If you’re looking for a silver lining from this experience, I suggest checking out the new Taylor Swift album. It's surprisingly good.


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