Horror week in Victorian hospitals


Victorian hospital staff have documented a horror week in the state's hospitals as case numbers surged to new highs.

Victoria recorded 429 new infections on Monday, with case numbers nearing 12,000 across the virus-plagued state. There are 416 Victorians in hospital, including 35 in intensive care. A total of 1195 healthcare workers are infected with the virus.

"As fast as we could send some out and clear a bed space, we were getting a message that another patient needed to come down to the ICU," Royal Melbourne Hospital clinical nurse specialist Abbey Fistrovic said in a video recorded for 7.30.

"We've just had COVID patients coming in, just one after the other," she added, showing the physical toll health care staff are experiencing.

"As you can see under my glasses, I've got marks from where I was wearing my N95 mask … my face is pretty sore," she said after wearing the equipment for four hours while screening patients.

"But this is the new normal … this is COVID-19," Ms Fistrovic said.

"Seeing people in the community complain about their masks that they have to wear for like, half an hour to go to the shops, is a little bit disheartening when our masks actually causes us physical injuries," emergency nurse Mel Pearson said.

Less than half an hour into an additional overtime triage shift on July 25, Ms Fistrovic had already triaged two positive cases.

"Two in 25 minutes gives you a bit of an indication of what's coming into the hospital currently," Ms Fistrovich said.

As case numbers continued to surge in the last week of July, hospital staff were stretched thin, even beyond their usual limits.

"There was just a frantic pace and frenetic energy about the place that I've really not quite seen before," Western Health research nurse Sam Bates said.

"We often talk about the noise level in intensive care units - especially for our patients - and that was one of those days that there was just nothing that you could do to try and deaden that noise at all."

Staff reported feeling anxiety as Victoria noted a record high 723 new cases on Thursday.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing when they released those numbers," Ms Fistrovic said.

"It sends a sense of anxiety through me because I know that our staff are going to get busier."

On Sunday Victoria enacted stage four restrictions in the hope of getting a handle on new cases and avoiding an overload of health care resources.

Last month it was revealed the number of people in Victorian hospitals battling coronavirus illness has almost tripled, while those in intensive care has quadrupled.

"These hospitalisations are of great concern to us," Mr Andrews said at the time.

"This is very, very serious."

Originally published as Horror week in Victorian hospitals