Dr Neil Kroeger and Dr Rajaswi Sainju and reception staff Juliska Jepsen and Kathy White (centre) from the Mackay Family Medical Practice on Nebo Road. Picture: Tony Martin
Dr Neil Kroeger and Dr Rajaswi Sainju and reception staff Juliska Jepsen and Kathy White (centre) from the Mackay Family Medical Practice on Nebo Road. Picture: Tony Martin

Unsung heroes in the war against coronavirus

UNSUNG heroes of the medical profession are on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus, risking their lives to save yours.

Medical staff at hospitals and practices in the Mackay region are facing the possibility of a daily threat to their lives with an increase in patients coming in for COVID-19 tests.

Sydney Street Medical Centre practice manager Emma Pullen said staff were relying on patients to be honest about symptoms and where they had been.

“Some of the patients don’t disclose all the relevant information, which could jeopardise the health of our staff,” Ms Pullen said.

Another problem was the shortage of protective equipment including masks, gowns, gloves and covered thermometers.

“Communications are also coming under severe strain with so many people accessing teleservices via the internet, and phones to get through to doctors, with calls dropping out and the internet slowing down,” Ms Pullen said.

Michelle Katt, from Mackay Family Medical Practice, said her staff were also being exposed to patients not disclosing their full condition or where they had travelled.

“Some of those who front up in person shouldn’t be coming in person, but rather contacting us over the phone,” Ms Katt said.

“Our staff is working under a very stressful situation with stocks of protective equipment also running low, increasing the risk they face, but we continue to come to work every day because we are determined to help our ­patients.”

Dr Ashley Nattrass and RN Toni Kelly at Caneland Medical Centre. Picture: Tony Martin
Dr Ashley Nattrass and RN Toni Kelly at Caneland Medical Centre. Picture: Tony Martin

Caneland Medical Centre’s Lyn Clark also said some patients were putting staff at risk, exposing them to possible infection when details of possible exposure were not revealed.

“Additionally the huge workload involving extra scanning, sending through X-rays and preparing the necessary documentation is taking up extra time,” Ms Clark said.

Due to the stress on staff, they have the option of taking time off from the roster.

But Mackay’s medical fraternity is up to the challenge.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Jo Whitehead said the hospital had admitted patients with COVID-19 and cared for them well while a rigorous contact- tracing process was undertaken with each case.

She said the health service had expanded its emergency department and intensive care unit in Mackay and had extra beds available.

“I want to reassure the community the health service is well prepared and responding to COVID-19,” Ms Whitehead said.


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