Nurse fears COVID could 'overwhelm' ICU

·2-min read

A nursing manager who worked through Victoria's deadly COVID-19 second wave fears the state's intensive care units will become overwhelmed again as Delta continues to spread.

Western Health senior critical care nurse manager Kylie Fisher says she is "terrified" about Victoria easing restrictions too early.

In 2020, Western Health had more than 400 patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.

Ms Fisher said last year nurses would come to her feeling "overwhelmed, sometimes in tears", with many worried about their families and colleagues.

"They were worried about how they would support their colleagues on the wards, looking after overwhelming numbers of acutely unwell patients," she told reporters in Melbourne.

"I saw tears, I saw exhaustion, I saw nurses consoling nurses, I saw blood across the ridges of their noses and ears for wearing PPE for 12 hours at a time.

"That was last year, and now we're looking at a strain that potentially is more contagious."

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said people were more than twice as likely to be hospitalised if they caught the Delta variant.

Ms Fisher said she feared intensive care units "will become more overwhelmed" if enough people did not get vaccinated or the outbreak was not brought under control soon.

While last year a high number of COVID patients were placed in wards outside intensive care, "this year I'm seeing admissions straight to the ICUs", she said.

"Last year we managed a large portion of our acutely unwell patients within the ward setting, but I'm worried that, being more contagious, our ICU beds will quickly be utilised and we'll struggle to meet the demand of what is required for our community."

Ms Fisher urged people to get vaccinated to ease pressure on Victoria's healthcare services.

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