Nurses help remote community

Peter Mackay

Two Central Coast nurses have travelled to the furthest reaches of outback NSW, as part of a COVID response health team to help the remote community of Wilcannia.

Acute Geriatrics Nurse Unit Manager, Fiona Young, and Trauma Clinical Nurse Consultant, Peter Mackay, put up their hands to help the remote and vulnerable community where COVID rapidly spread in August.

The Gosford Hospital senior nurses joined a multidisciplinary, multi-agency team including NSW Health, Police, Rural Fire Service, Australian Defence Force and SES.

Due to limited accommodation in Wilcannia, 35 campervans were hired and set up in a park to accommodate, isolate, observe and monitor close contacts in a “hospital in the home” model – the first of its kind.

Fiona Young

Young and Mackay were involved in formalising procedures, observing close contacts, and carrying out home visits to check on positive cases in the community.

This often involved them needing to change in the back of a car and wear full head_to-toe personal protective equipment in temperatures well over 30C degrees, but both said it was a very rewarding experience.

“The feedback from both the community and the Far West Local Health District was great,” Mackay said.

“They really appreciated us being out there and helping out. We were almost always greeted with a joke or a yarn.”

“It was great to be involved in a unique opportunity to set up a process of caring for close contacts in a new and exciting model of care that can be implemented in other rural areas.”

Young, who usually volunteers overseas each year, agreed the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and she was grateful for the opportunity.

“It was a wonderful experience and opportunity to participate in setting up a new model of care during the COVID response,” she said.

Central Coast Health District