Shifts are out of control
I am a paediatric clinical nurse specialist.
During the Delta wave I was identified as someone with ICU experience and was sent to work in an adult ICU. I’d had six months’ experience as a new grad in the beginning of 2017.
You can imagine my shock to be thrown into the deep end like that. I thought I had it bad, but then a few weeks later they brought in nurses from theatres and non-acute wards – many of whom had zero ICU experience.
It was neither fair nor safe for patients or staff. The ICU staff were so thankful and helpful, but it was not fair on them either, as their workloads constantly increased when they needed to help the temporary staff.
So many shifts felt out of control. The acuity, the PPE, being drenched in sweat, being stuck in COVID rooms for hours, not knowing what you were doing or why, and being constantly terrified you would make a mistake that could cost someone their life.
The worst part for me was not being able to provide people the care they deserved. When there were no visitors allowed, many of these patients’ basic needs were neglected. Not out of laziness or lack of caring, but because there were things that all took greater priority. I had one family member allowed to visit and she praised me and the other nursing staff for being “angels”. I smiled and nodded and then avoided her because I couldn’t face the praise when I knew the job I had been able to do was so below any standard I would expect for anyone in a hospital.
So, I am sorry.
I’m sorry for my patients and not being able to provide the care they deserved.
I’m sorry to my paediatric colleagues who lost a senior staff member, which left them short-staffed and increased their workloads.
I’m sorry to the ICU nurses who tried their hardest to help us and make us feel welcome, even though we were an extra burden they did not ask to bear.
But most of all I’m sorry that our government undervalues the nursing profession, where caring for people is at the heart of what we do. A government that lies to its constituents and tells them that the health system is coping.
We are not coping. Every day we go to work exhausted, physically and mentally, and we try our best to care for your loved ones. But it’s not good enough.
Simone Fisher, RN CNS