Leadership and dedication in challenging times
Cecilia was a nurse on Alfred Health’s first designated COVID ward – and her leadership and dedication saw her later rise to the role of Acting Nurse Manager.
In March 2020, 7 West at The Alfred became the first COVID ward at the health service. The ward was set up as an immediate response, evolving as the world came to better understand COVID-19.
“COVID on 7 West in 2020 was learning on the go. Every day we would start our handover with what updates happened overnight in the latest infection prevention guidelines,” said Cecilia.
“We could only really relate to each other. No one else was doing what we were doing, no one else was seeing what we were seeing, and no one else was feeling what we were feeling.”
Cecilia was working as an Associate Nurse Unit Manager (ANUM) and said some of the biggest challenges were around staff safety.
“At the time there was a lot of discussion about COVID potentially being airborne, but the WHO guidelines, and therefore our guidelines, maintained it was droplet transmission and our PPE reflected this for the first half of 2020,” said Cecilia.
“It was a very difficult time as an ANUM to advocate for staff who felt unsafe in droplet PPE, while also trying to reassure the team that we were following the advice we had been given by the WHO.”
In September 2020, 7 West was closed and a better ventilated COVID ward opened which Cecilia continued to work on as an ANUM. When COVID cases in the community began to increase in mid-2021, 7 West re-opened as a COVID ward and Cecilia was approached for the Acting Nurse Manager role.
“I never saw myself working in a Nurse Manager or Acting Nurse Manager role; I was quite content as an ANUM. But having done it on 7 West COVID I know that I can and know I can make a difference in this role,” said Cecilia.
“Every challenge that came with COVID was a genuine opportunity, and I’m proud that I’ve taken every one of those opportunities.”
Cecilia has been working at Alfred Health for almost seven years. During her studies she completed each of her nursing placements at Alfred Health, including her final placement on 7 West – and has worked on 7 West ever since.
As The Alfred marks its 150th year, Cecilia said the thing that makes her job at Alfred Health so special is her colleagues.
“I feel incredibly supported by the team I work with, I feel challenged by them, and I want to make the ward a better ward not only for our patients but for our staff as well,” said Cecilia.
“I want the team to come to work and enjoy being at work, and I enjoy trying to create that environment.”