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Nurses rise to the challenge

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Nurses rise to the challenge

ALMOST 70 nurses have stepped into new roles in intensive care, rising to the challenge of caring for Victoria’s sickest patients during the pandemic.

The increasing number of critically ill patients requiring highly specialised care and treatment has led to Western Health focusing its efforts on responding to COVID-19 to support the community.

This includes redeploying staff to positions of highest priority, including frontline roles in our emergency departments, wards and Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

Footscray Hospital Director of Nursing & Midwifery Jo Mapes said this has only been possible thanks to the dedication and commitment of nurses and medical staff.

Rachael Menadue is an associate nurse unit manager from Sunshine hospital theatres, and has been redeployed to the ICU to support the health service’s surge plans.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Rachael said.

“I had a combination of feelings, I was nervous, concerned and excited, and I wasn’t sure what my role would look like, if I would be well-supported, or operating within my scope of practice.”

However, she said she had been supported by her ICU buddy nurse, nursing educators and medical staff, and the ICU leadership team.

“I’m learning every single day, in fact, I am gaining new skills and knowledge hour to hour and when the time does come for me to return to my substantive role in Sunshine Theatre, I am really looking forward to transferring the skills and knowledge I have gained."

Rachael said there has been a period of adjustment, including the physical demands of the shift lengths and times- a combination of 12 hour day and night shifts- and finding the mental stamina to study outside of work to maximise her scope of practice.

She encouraged other nurses to consider taking up the opportunity to be redeployed, as she has found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.

 “Overall it has been a very positive experience and I have felt very supported and it’s something I am really enjoying and I am learning new skills and growing in confidence every day.

“I’m very thankful that I have been able to help provide our patients with this care.”

Critical Care Nurses and Registered Nurses from a variety of wards and departments have joined the ICU team in a buddy model where ICU Nurses partner with Registered Nurses who have undertaken upskilling programs and orientation shifts to meet the growing demand for ICU beds.

“So far, 22 Critical Care Nurses have joined the ICU teams, redeploying from their usual roles in Research, Education and specialist nursing roles and 45 Registered Nurses have transitioned into the ICU team from theatres, wards and non-clinical roles,” Jo said.

“We acknowledge what a significant change this has been for their practice setting and working in a new model of care in our highest acuity environment, and we sincerely thank them for undertaking this amazing commitment.”

ICU nurse Ryan Tronson said working in ICU could be physically and mentally demanding and COVID-19 patients were particularly challenging as they often deteriorated quickly.

“We are very grateful for the help of the theatre and ward staff who have come into the ICU to assist us- we couldn't do this without them,” Ryan said.

Western Health are keen to hear from Registered Nurses who are interested in supporting our Intensive Care, Emergency Departments and Acute Ward teams. Find out more here: