'Isolated and alone': Nurse 'humiliated' after aged care home lockdown

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

The sick nurse at the centre of the lockdown of an aged care facility in Central Queensland is demanding an apology from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

State-owned North Rockhampton nursing home in central Queensland was placed into lockdown after the female staff member tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

The nurse was subsequently suspended.

“It is not acceptable for anyone who is sick in this particular pandemic we are dealing with to go to work if they are sick,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Honestly, a nurse should know better.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during Parliament Question Time. Source: AAP (file pic)

The nurse’s suspension followed a coronavirus cluster which broke out at Newmarch House in Sydney after a nurse working there showed up for work feeling sick. Seventy-one cases of coronavirus have been linked to the facility and 19 deaths.

But Nurses' Professional Association of Queensland president Phill Tsingos, who said he’s been in touch with the unnamed nurse, wants the premier to apologise and claims the woman has been “unjustly treated” and vilified on social media.

“The nurse is in a fragile mental state,” Mr Tsingos told Yahoo News Australia.

“She can’t defend her own name and she’s stuck in self-isolation. She’s isolated and alone.”

Mr Tsingos wants the premier to apologise to the nurse publicly. 

“Yes, it was unwise of her to go back to work before getting the test results back but that doesn’t mean she deserves to be publicly humiliated,” he said.

An investigation was set to be launched into the matter, which posed a serious threat to the facility’s 115 residents and 180 workers, who subsequently all had to undergo coronavirus testing.

The health department have also referred her to the Crime and Corruption Commission over an alleged breach of the Chief Health Officer's directions.

"Our focus remains on controlling COVID-19 and reducing its spread and protecting North Rockhampton Nursing Centre residents and staff, and the community, from infection," a department spokesperson said.

"The most important thing is that every single Queenslander knows that if they have symptoms they should get tested immediately and stay at home until the tests are returned."

The department is finalising the terms and references for an external investigation.

Initial tests for all residents and staff were negative.

A nurse at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre was suspended after working while sick. Source: AAP (file pic)

A second round of tests has also been done, with results so far returning negative.

More results are due on Saturday.

A rapid response unit of 26 nurses was sent to Rockhampton to care for affected staff and residents who are now in isolation and face ongoing testing.

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