Organized madness: Nurse describes what it’s like to be on the front line of the coronavirus outbreak and at a specialized COVID-19 clinic
- Michelle Caulfield works in the coronavirus clinic at The Alfred in Melbourne
- She described it as “organized madness” and tested hundreds of patients
- Ms Caulfield said staff take extreme precautions to protect them
- Staff are trying to up morale in light of the devastating outbreak
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
A nurse has described what it’s like to be on the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak at a hospital’s COVID-19 clinic.
Michelle Caulfield is a supervision assistant nursing manager at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne who works with coronavirus patients in a specialist clinic in the emergency department.
The Alfred launched their COVID-19 screening clinic on March 12, and Ms. Caulfield tested hundreds of patients for the deadly disease.
“We say that the cotton swabs – like a cotton swab that carries the nose to the nasopharynx – are like tickling people’s brains,” said Mrs. Caulfield The Herald Sun.
“It was organized madness.”
A nurse wearing protective clothing greets a patient outside the Alfred COVID-19 screening clinic on Thursday
The clinic was launched on March 12, with Ms. Caulfield saying that staff are taking extreme precautions to protect themselves from the disease
Ms Caulfield said her staff treated people aged 20 to 90 in the hospital and took extreme precautions to protect them from contracting the virus.
Employees wear their personal protective equipment, including a white impermeable dress with mask, goggles and gloves, to see each patient before removing them after treatment.
Ms Caulfield said the staff are incredibly careful and do everything in their power to prevent them from getting the disease out of the hospital and potentially infecting others in their home lives.
“It’s a lot on and off,” she said. “Lots of hand hygiene. But I am convinced that the protocols protect us. ‘
Team members have given simulation training for extreme cases of the disease while wearing their protective gear, and Ms. Caulfield said she feels willing to brave all patients coming through the clinic.
Two patients died of the coronavirus in the hematology and oncology unit at The Alfred last week, leaving 60 hospital workers to isolate themselves.
Two patients died of coronavirus in The Alfred last week, with Ms. Caulfield saying staff are doing everything they can to keep their morale up.
The number of patients ebbs and flows per shift, but is steadily increasing as the outbreak continues.
Despite the setbacks, Ms. Caulfield said the staff keep their morale up as they can, including a live stream of Melbourne Zoo in the tea room.
Ms Caulfield said the public hears the advice of health authorities and only comes to the hospital if they need urgent attention while remaining calm in the clinic.
“It’s difficult right now because there are so many colds and viruses around that meet the criteria,” she said. “But better than a cure.”
“That is our motto: prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
There are currently 4,167 cases of coronavirus in Australia, with 16 deaths