New state health strategy boosted by regional SA nurses and midwives

Nurses in the country and around the nation are being saluted as they stand tall against the coronavirus.

The compassionate bunch are a big key in the state government's latest strategy in educating communities in the fight to protect and minimise the spread of the virus.

A cluster of nurses in the Murray Mallee is among the adaptable staff being praised by their director of nursing Desiree Parkhurst.

The nurse of 44 years, who hails from South Africa, helps lead Lameroo and Pinaroo hospitals, some 40km apart.

"We have had to be really flexible in our learning and prepare to adapt to whatever the need is," Ms Parkhurst said.

The health sites are made up of emergency departments, acute beds and aged-care residents.

"We have had to really focus our thinking on how we keep our patients and our resident and our staff safe," she said.

The united approach has meant introducing daily checks for permission of entry to staff and visitors.

The safety measures deals with a greater challenge - those who live across the South Australian border near Pinnaroo.

"Each day we have someone at the door and we don't come in until we adequately answer the questions," she said.

These relate to travel, contact with others and overall health, including temperature.

Ms Parkhurst said "staff have run with everything introduced".

"Staff have also worked extra shifts to keep the health sites functioning," she said.l

The precautions have seen her staff step up in time of need.

Ms Parkhurst said that national temporary government restrictions had resulted in aged-care residents being affected.

Aged-care restrictions allow only one visitor between 11am and 3pm for an hour.

Staff from nurses to cleaners check on the residents, providing company and support.

"I am really proud of the staff because I am having regular meetings with them and talking through different scenarios. They just get on with it," she said.

SA Health chief nurse and midwifery officer Jenny Hurley said nursing staff were doing incredible work.

She said they played a key role in educating communities.

They are an important part in the state government's latest workforce strategy which includes:

  • Rapid upskilling of nurses by working with education partners
  • Fast-tracking recruitment of nurses and midwives with a range of skills including intensive care, home care and aged care
  • Supporting student nurses to assist in key COVID-19 response functions, including as part of multi-disciplinary teams in sample collection centres, testing clinics and border screening
  • Developing innovative models of care that allow nurses/midwives to work more flexibly across a number of healthcare sites or through a hospital at home model
  • Supporting nurses/midwives through clinical mentoring and coaching
  • Investigating the capacity of part-time nurses/midwives to increase their hours.

Ms Hurley said the plan involves the largest healthcare profession working together to support communities and each other.

The health professionals' expertise extend to supporting intensive care, aged care and emergency departments.

"The most important thing is that all nurses are in this fight together," she said.