It’s no secret that a skewed portion of media coverage during the COVID-19 Pandemic has revolved around sports, namely the AFL for us Aussies. That is all well and good, until we take a look at just how well-cared for our footy players are, compared to our nurses.
The question of if and when Aussie Rules Footy will return for the 2020 season has played like a good old-fashioned soap opera – will they or won’t they?! After being given the green-light, it has been announced that AFL players will receive frequent COVID-19 tests, with results issued within 24 hours.
Nurses working on the front-line are waiting over a week for test results
Over 160,000 Victorians were tested for COVID-19 within a fortnight and another 150,000 are set to be tested by the end of the month. These tests are from a combination of symptomatic and asymptomatic (showing no symptoms of coronavirus) people.
We spoke with Nurse Carole*, who has been working in the trenches at a Victorian hospital.
“Due to this push a number of medical facilities and emergency services arranged to test all their staff” – Nurse Carole
While that effort to avoid spreading COVID-19 from nurses to patients, the delay in receiving results has become similar to a game of Russian Roulette.
“If a nurse who is asymptomatic is tested…. this nurse is waiting for her results for 8 days.”
Being asymptomatic and an essential worker, there is no question surrounding the fact that nurses are expected to continue working – business as usual!
However, 8 days is a long time to wait for COVID-19 test results.
“In this time he/she is working in a hospital, on a ward with cancer patients, then moved to work at the facilities’ aged care facility where your grandmother is a resident.”
Unfortunately, the trail of destruction caused by unknowingly carrying coronavirus around is huge. Add to that casualties that are immunocompromised and that is when things truly become terrifying.
“Now after 8 days of waiting this nurse has a positive COVID-19 result and has infected up to 20 cancer patients, multiple others nurses and your grandmother, who is too frail to fight the disease.”
Delayed results are costing more than we think
Things get tricky – and expensive – when those that are tested are unwell, as they are required to stay in hospital until their test results come back.
These people are put in isolation and any hospital staff entering the room must use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“On average let’s say the nurses will need to enter that room about 15 times a day. That requires the use and disposal of PPE 15 times.”
“Patients test results are taking between 5-8 days to get. So we are using about 120 PPE gear fits for a patient who is potentially not positive.”
Add to that the global shortage of PPE and our nurses definitely have a problem.
“I am sure we all know how precious PPE is right now!”
Staffing shortfalls, while unwell nurses await results
In what Nurse Carole calls a “necessary measure to protect the public and our most vulnerable”, any nurses showing coronavirus symptoms are tested and quarantined at home.
“Nurses who become unwell and require testing must be swabbed resulting in them remaining quarantined at home until test results return.”
“They must stay home, even when they are feeling better, until their swab result has come back… causing staffing short falls”
Raising the question – do we value footy or our nurses?
This brings us back to the new processes being introduced to AFL players. They are tested for COVID-19 before every game – 24 hours before each game, actually.
Their results will be looked at before each game to assess whether or not they can play. In other words, whether or not they have coronavirus.
“How can AFL football players have a daily result?”
“How is a game of football more important than protecting our community from this horrible disease?”
This slap-in-the-face to all nurses brings to question just how much Aussies value our health-care workers. When it comes to sports, the delayed start to the season caused a blow to many fans. Politicians have prioritised the return of sports throughout the pandemic.
Nurse Carole admits she loves the footy as much as the next person. The problem lies in the inconsistent wait-time in retrieving a COVID-19 test result in the name of a footy match, compared to somebody working in a hospital.
“Football players are not essential and neither is the game.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity