STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINE: Essential workers during COVID-19

We are living in difficult times. COVID-19 has forced children out of schools, elderly into further isolation and most significantly, it has exposed the crippling social inequalities that the most vulnerable in our communities have endured for far too long. While the rest of New Zealand are on lockdown, essential workers are sacrificing time away from their loved ones to ensure that the country runs smoothly and safely. This mini series aims to raise awareness, encourage hope and honour our people working on the frontline during COVID-19. 

Loi Elisapeta Fuimaono is Registered Nurse working at Waitakere Hospital on an Acute General Medical Ward. She has been in this role for three years and extraordinarily, is not the only member in her family to be working through the lockdown period. Loi's father is an orderly, her mother is a Pacific support worker and her sister is also a healthcare worker, working in the same hospital. They are all essential workers. As a registered nurse in West Auckland, Loi shares her experience as a young Samoan woman, working on the frontline.

The pandemic has caused anxiety and fear for a lot of people around the world. As a health care professional, how has your experience been so far, working during the lockdown? 

Honestly, it’s a privilege. New Zealand is going through something we’ve never experienced before so it empowers you to utilise your role more to provide advice and educate patients and families, as well as our wider community. The hospital at the moment is in that “calm before the storm” phase with strictly no visitors allowed. The patient rooms and corridors are empty too. With the visitors restrictions in place, we have to maintain everyone’s trust and ensure that families and carers are updated and patients have access to contacting their families and friends.

As of today 4pm, our CEO has reported with the current WDHB (Waitemata District Health Board - Waitakere & North Shore) inpatients, there have been no positive cases. There are 8 cases that are under investigation and 9 have returned negative results.

Being a nurse in close interaction with patients, I made the decision to move out of home and self isolate in a cute small unit with my sister (who is also a healthcare worker at the same hospital) to protect my loved ones, in particular my nephew who is 3 months old and my cousin who is 37 weeks pregnant.

Everyone’s situation is different, for example some nurses are solo parents and don’t have that option to self isolate. However I can reassure the wider community that we have strict guidelines to support us in how we can reduce transmission going back home to our loved ones!

What an incredible sacrifice you've made for your patients and family members. You're in an interesting situation where you're not actually the only person in your family that's working throughout this period. How have your loved ones responded to these circumstances?

My parents (Dad - An Orderly, Mum - Pacific Support Worker) are also working so they’re always the constant motivation getting up and going. Otherwise, everyone has been super supportive, it warms my heart. I get constant messages from family and friends checking in on me and showing love, especially my fiancé who has been my rock, the social distance should be called long distance for us! 

Why have you made the decision to work during the lockdown period? 

I am thankful to be in good health at the moment and like any other nurse, it’s another day for us. But now we’re in a different kind of battlefield situation preparing for what’s to come our way.

From your position, what do you think the wider public can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

STAY AT HOME.

Wash your hands and sanitise!

There is also a lot of misinformation going around. It is important to utilise the resources that have been provided such as:

  1. www.Covid19.govt.nz
  2. The Health Advice Line: 0800 358 5453. You may experience delays on this line so if there is a health professional in your community, REACH OUT! I love getting messages from people who just need reassurance. The advice I give is within my scope of practice.

For our Pasifika families, the Ministry of Pacific Peoples have created awesome resources translated in different languages to keep everyone informed.

For our families who don’t have access to wifi or computers, check in on them to make sure that they are up to date with everything.

What is your message of hope for readers that are still feeling a bit anxious or overwhelmed?

Don’t be alarmed by the increasing numbers. Focus on what you are doing because we are all on the frontline together. WE CAN ALL SAVE LIVES! As our beautiful and honourable PM says, 'WE ARE NOT ALONE.' LESSSGOOO!

 

STAY HOME. SAVE LIVES. 

www.covid19.govt.nz

0800REFUGE- Women’s Refuge
0508FAMILY- Oranga Tamariki (Reports of concern for children’s safety)
0508 744 633- SHINE
0800 787 797- Alcohol and drug helpline
0800 543 354 or free text 4357- Lifeline
0800 376 633 - Youthline
0800 111 757 Depression Helpline
0508 828 865 Suicide Prevention Helpline

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