Virus fears: Exhausted nurses spat at, threatened

 

EXHAUSTED Gold Coast Health workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic have been told to stop wearing uniforms in public after being spat at and refused entry to shops.

According to Gold Coast Health, members of the public have lashed out at staff in their hospital uniforms fearing they might contaminate them with the potentially deadly virus - a fear which has no basis in truth.

In a notice sent to staff, all nurses, doctors and other health personnel have been warned not to wear their uniforms or identification when going to and from work in order to avoid abuse from the general public.

Health staff have been warned not to wear their scrubs in public. Photo: Supplied
Health staff have been warned not to wear their scrubs in public. Photo: Supplied

All staff are required to undertake a rigorous decontamination process at the end of their shift, and wear protective gear over their scrubs when dealing with patients.

The Bulletin understands after a weekend shift one nurse was told she could not enter a convenience store to buy groceries, because she was still in uniform.

Another was spat at for wearing it in a public space while travelling to work.

"As you are no doubt aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a great deal of uncertainty and fear in our community," the email to staff read.

"Sadly, fear is one of the identified risk factors for violence and aggressive behaviour.

"We have, overnight, heard multiple reports of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour towards our staff wearing their uniform in the community. This greatly saddens us, and we will be increasing our public messaging about supporting the well-being of our health heroes at this time."

A Gold Coast doctor who works at the hospital said the incidents had shaken the team who were run ragged.

“Our staff are working hard to serve the community. Holidays have been cancelled. Leave has been sacrificed. People are not seeing their families.”
“Our staff are working hard to serve the community. Holidays have been cancelled. Leave has been sacrificed. People are not seeing their families.”

"Our staff are working hard to serve the community. Holidays have been cancelled. Leave has been sacrificed. People are not seeing their families," he said.

"Hospital staff wear personal protective equipment over scrubs. There is a significant amount of precautions around treating people that are even suspected of an infection. The risk of anything being transmitted from their scrubs is remote."

The doctor said members of the public who harassed staff were far more at risk of contracting the virus for not following social isolation measures.

"The scrubs are a symbol of what our staff do. It's a sad time to see our community attacking those that sacrifice so much to help people."

Queensland Minister for Health Steven Miles said health workers deserved respect, not hate.

"It sickens me to hear about these shocking incidents of abuse directed at our health workers," he said.

"These health heroes, battling COVID-19 on the front line, should wear their scrubs with pride - not fear they'll single them out for targeting.

"These are the people who go to work every day to save the lives of Queenslanders. One day that might be the life of someone you love. Treat them with respect."

Originally published as Exhausted Coast nurses spat at, threatened, told to hide uniforms