Brave graduate nurses give insight into COVID-19 ‘red zone’
GRADUATE nurses around Queensland have walked into the front lines of the biggest medical emergency of the century, with only weeks of first-hand experience.
Four new nurses from Logan Hospital have revealed what it's like inside the hospital and it's COVID-19 red zone.
Their bravery and head down attitude is inspiring while facing day to day tasks that may have been hard to imagine just weeks ago.
One of the youngest nurses in the hospital, 21-year-old Jamie-Lea Hewlett said, she feels like she's living in a dream.
"Your grad year is already one of the toughest years of your life and throwing this into the mix makes it more stressful and overwhelming," Ms Hewlett told The Courier-Mail.
"You are already nervous and anxious with a normal patient because it's the first time you are looking after someone by yourself."
When they enter the sectioned off COVID-19 red zone there is a strict procedure to follow.
They must put on their personal protective equipment (PPE) in a specific order with a spotter watching each step.
"It doesn't feel real when you're working in the red zone, when you're wearing that stuff, it just doesn't feel normal," Ms Hewlett said.
A new part of the job is now reassuring patients that they won't get sick while at hospital for other treatments.
"We don't want people to feel like they can't access health care, we don't want them to be afraid or scared they'll get sick from coming to hospital."
Sandy Knight moved to nursing later in life for a change of career, she said, 'it's pretty surreal."
"It does look like a bit of a movie scene the way it's contained in that area, you know, you hear about it, you see it on TV, but now we are living it," Ms Knight said.
"People were quite shocked when they saw the red zone, it clicked in that it's really happening."
The constant support they receive from the hospital and their fast-tracked learning has been crucial, but the nurses also need to be strong.
29-year-old graduate nurse Romnick De Los Amas said, "You have to have resilience. You need it on a normal day so you need it especially at a time like this just to get through it."
They had to learn how to operate resuscitators in weeks and much earlier in the year than usual.
"Learning the ventilators and getting crash courses on things you wouldn't do until the end of the year."
"We are in training right now eight months earlier than we expected"
Sarah Richards was a paramedic for 13-years before moving into hospital nursing this year, finding the change tough.
"I'm outside my comfort zone, there are new challenges, it's a different environment with different protocols and a different structure," Ms Richards said.
"You have to find a way to switch off and recharge, otherwise you live and breathe it and you're going to burn out."
The four nurses are showing courage, optimism and toughness in an uncertain and new setting.
"I think we're quite fortunate because we are never going to have this experience again," Ms Richards said.
"I should be negative about it, but I'm not, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be put in this situation and this environment with the staff that are around us.
Originally published as Brave grad nurses give insight into COVID-19 'red zone'