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'We have pressure sores.' What it's like in Melbourne's COVID-19 hospital wards right now.

Last week I started working in a COVID-19 positive ward, where patients have either been rescued or transferred from care facilities around Victoria. 

My mum took this photo of me through an inch wide window, in a door separating the COVID ward from the theatre department where she works. Seeing me in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), through a locked door that’s been sealed with hazard tape (and all other COVID things going on), was all too much. 

"My mum took this photo of me through an inch wide window." Image: Supplied. 

She is proud of me, but she is scared. Naturally, I tried to smile under my mask, give the thumbs up and show her I’m okay. But as I see the tears roll down her face, the seriousness of the situation hits home and I find myself tearing up too. 

I want to rip off my gown and mask, jump through the door and hug her to make her feel better. Instead I put my hand to the glass, and she does the same, as more tears roll down her face. I hold back my own because in this area, you don’t dare touch your face at any point.

I also know that for me, this period of not being with my family has an end date. For some of the people I’m caring for, they haven’t physically seen or touched a family member since February, and some may not get that chance again. These people have been kept isolated in their rooms for months, they’ve only seen masks and gowns, only touched gloves, and only heard their loved ones' voices through devices for a few minutes a day. 

It’s heartbreaking to hold their hand while they cry and see their daily struggle, so I won’t shed a tear for my situation, because in this PPE I can’t even shed a tear for theirs.

Listen: Stories from inside Melbourne's stage four lockdown. Post continues below.

The PPE is horrible; the plastic gowns are hot and sweaty and they stick to your skin. I have pressure sores in between my thumbs and index fingers from where the thumb holes have been pulling because the arm lengths are too short. But as soon as you take one gown off after being with a patient, you’re not comfortable again until you’ve put a fresh gown back on and feel protected again. 

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Our hands are turning raw with the constant hand washing and sanitising. The N95 masks are claustrophobic, cutting into our skin and giving us pressure sores on our noses, cheeks and ears, rashes on our faces, yet we pull them tighter because they’re saving us from the same fate as our patients. We see each other hurting yet we don’t complain; one look at our patients and we don’t feel any of our own pain anymore. 

People ask how I drew the short straw to work here....I didn’t. I offered. These people, our most vulnerable people, have been let down by a greater community not heeding the warnings. They have done nothing wrong, yet they pay the price of Victoria ignoring the seriousness of this virus.

Watch: A young Melbourne nurse on testing positive to COVID-19. Post continues below. 

When we ask ourselves years down the track, ‘What did I do to help when COVID spread across the world?’, I can say that I actually used my training, and directly helped. 

For you, the public, staying home and wearing a mask is the very small thing we ask of you to help. So please, don’t complain about those soft masks across your face that you wear for 30 minutes when grocery shopping, and cherish the time at home knowing the air you breathe is clean.

If you are one of the people planning secret gatherings and preaching your own personal ‘rights’ over everyone else’s safety, you need to take a long hard look at yourself, or better yet, our patients. Take a walk through any hospital's COVID ward and then tell us about how much this pandemic has inconvenienced you. 

I dare you. 

This article was originally posted to Caity Scott's Facebook and was republished here with full permission. You can view the original post here


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