The long arm of COVID-19
COVID-19 has affected the work environment and wellbeing of healthcare workers even in facilities that have managed to avoid an outbreak.
Gosford Hospital’s busy maternity unit on the NSW Central Coast is one such facility.
“So far we have been lucky to dodge that bullet. We haven’t had to nurse COVID-19-positive mums or bubs, like some midwives in Western Sydney and South Western Sydney have,” said Gosford midwife and NSWNMA member Nicole Richardson.
However, COVID-19-related visitor restrictions have reduced the emotional and physical family support available to new mums.
Midwives do their utmost to fill the gaps, but they were already under-staffed before COVID-19.
“During the lockdown we had exhausted women isolated from their families and trying to
establish breast feeding – and their buzzers weren’t getting answered in a reasonable time frame,” Nicole said.
“Some of our women have just had major abdominal surgery, a lower segment Caesarean section to birth their baby. C-section babies have a tendency to vomit small amounts after birth and these mothers find it difficult and painful to reach over and pick up the baby after the C-section.
“Therefore, they need our assistance but we can’t get to everyone fast enough. That puts huge stress on everyone. We
feel terrible and the women feel terrible asking for help – and they shouldn’t.”
Since the Delta outbreak, several maternity staff have left the service or converted from permanent to casual because of the increased workload and stress, thereby widening the gaps in the roster.