At this morning's COVID-19 press conference, nurse Michelle Dowd, who works as the manager of the intensive care unit at Liverpool Hospital, shared her insight into what it's like working on the frontlines of the health response during the pandemic.
Ms Dowd detailed just how sick patients are becoming with COVID-19, and the emotional toll treating them has taken on staff and families.
We have published the full transcript of her media conference below, or you can watch that specific segment from the press conference at the top of the page.
My name is Michelle Dowd and I'm the nurse manager at intensive care for Liverpool Hospital.
I'm here with you today to share what it's like for intensive care nurses on the frontline during this pandemic response and to encourage you all to please get vaccinated.
Intensive care units in hospitals are where we look after our sickest, most vulnerable patients.
We work in a large team of health professionals and support staff to look after the sickest patients in the hospital, these are patients who have been victims of trauma, patients who have had strokes, cardiac arrest, major surgery.
To keep everyone safe in our intensive care unit right now, we've essentially divided it so we can keep the COVID and non-COVID patients separate and protect the most vulnerable.
The Delta variant is just that contagious, and that's why vaccination is so very important.
Intensive care patients need one-on-one nursing care.
They need to be monitored really closely so that we can respond immediately in case they deteriorate.
If you or your loved one is in intensive care right now for any reason, you may not be able to have visitors.
We know it's really hard at the moment to be separated from your support network but the amount of virus that's circulating in the community just poses too much risk to our patients.
For our COVID ICU patients, they can't have visitors at all.
Every day, we're communicating with families over the phone and by video call to connect them.
In the worst cases, at the end of life, we'll connect a call with the family and hold the patient's hands and provide as much care and comfort and support as we possibly can.
We know this is really hard for families.
This is really hard for us as well.
We normally work really closely with our families at the bedside when we look after our intensive care patients but looking after COVID patients is not just emotionally hard for intensive care nurses.
It's physically really hard work as well.
These patients are some of the sickest we've ever seen
They require so much support and monitoring and physical care.
We're in layers of PPE, sometimes for hours at a time.
This is really physically hard work.
While our intensive care units are busy and stretched at the moment, we do work in a broader NSW ICU network and we can share the load to some degrees but we really need your hope to stop the spread and keep people out of hospital and out of intensive care.
The Delta variant is so contagious that we have entire family groups in our hospital in some really tragic circumstances.
We've had parents, both parents of young children so sick that they need to be ventilated in our intensive care unit and separated from their children.
Sometimes, they don't have extended family to look after these children, or the extended family is so sick that we need to make alternative care arrangements.
This virus is literally ripping families apart.
Many of our parents with COVID are young. They're normally fit and healthy.
They come from a variety of backgrounds but the one thing that they have in common is the disease.
We'll be with you right through this, but we need you to be with us now.
If you haven't booked your vaccine, please, please go out today and book that vaccination.
Follow the health orders.
Help us as your frontline health care workers to keep patients out of hospital.
By getting vaccinated you don't just protect yourself.
You protect your family, your friends, strangers. Will save lives.
You will help us to save lives. I know that the restrictions are really hard.
We all want things to get back to normal but we have to stay the course so please book your vaccination today.
Work with us and we will get through this together.
Thank you so much.