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Saturday, April 13, 2024

More WA nurses swoop in to assist Victoria

Five Western Australian nurses are headed to Melbourne to support Victoria in its COVID-19 battle.

This initial group will join a small Western Australian forward command team that left Perth on Wednesday in response to an urgent request for help from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services for healthcare workers.

“It is heartbreaking to see what is happening to our fellow Australians and I would like to extend my gratitude to the staff who have volunteered for this deployment,” said WA Health Minister, Roger Cook.

“They sum up the true spirit of Western Australia – kind and compassionate, and bold and brave,” he said.

“They are making huge personal sacrifices to travel to Victoria to help the COVID-19 response during this very challenging time. Not only are they putting themselves in the middle of a crisis, they are also saying goodbye to their families and friends for at least a month.

Since the call went out last week, WA Health says it has received expressions of interest from dozens of nurses willing to travel to Victoria to help.  

It said a register of interested nurses has been set up and additional staff are expected to be deployed in coming days and weeks.

The initial deployment of nurses will be focused on providing support to residential aged care facilities in Victoria which have been severely affected by COVID-19. 

“The safety of all staff remains a priority and all WA Health staff will be provided with all necessary support on the ground in Victoria, including regular wellbeing checks,” said Minister Cook.

He said WA’s low numbers of COVID-19 patients and lack of community transmission had made it possible for the State to provide additional support to Victoria, without compromising WA’s preparedness.

“As well as providing vital on the ground assistance, the deployment will provide unique learning opportunities for local healthcare workers – further strengthening WA’s ability to respond to a local outbreak.” 

The Minister said all staff would be required to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks on their return to Perth. 

“We are already assisting Victoria with contact tracing and specialist advice and now are pleased to be able to provide this additional nursing support,” said Mr Cook.

“We are incredibly proud of these Western Australians and cannot thank them enough.”

The deployment of staff to Victoria is a cross agency effort supported by both the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Australian Defence Force. Both agencies have provided forward planning support, with staff travelling to Victoria on Wednesday as part of the initial deployment. 

WA Health has been providing assistance to the Victorian COVID-19 response for a number of weeks.

This has included remote contact tracing through the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre as well as supporting the deployment of an Australian Medical Assistance Team in early August. 

WA’s former Chief Health Officer, Dr Tarun Weeramanthri, was also seconded to Victoria for two months to provide specialist advice to the State’s public health response. 

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