'Courageous nurses' kept turning up for work.
Subject: Nurses (Practice)
Nurses (Social aspects)
Disaster victims (Care and treatment)
Emergency management (Management)
Patients (Care and treatment)
Patients (Management)
Pub Date: 10/01/2010
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Oct, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 9
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 290 Public affairs Computer Subject: Company business management
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 241179351
Full Text: Christchurch Hospital director of nursing Heather Gray knew nurses would be courageous and keep turning up for work in the days following the 'quake, but she was still impressed at their response. "Many had issues of their own to deal with but they kept coming to work for their patients."

Gray got to the hospital on the Saturday afternoon and slept on site for several days, covering a number of the night shifts, as did a number of the senior nursing staff. "It was a Long week and we were all pretty tired by the end of it.

"Our message to staff was clear. Check on your families and homes first and come to work when you can. We also offered special earthquake Leave for those dealing with damage and disruption at home."

Along with the senior nursing staff, maintenance and engineering staff were also at the hospital 24 hours a day, checking the buildings were safe. "The building expanded and contracted as it was meant to, but a lot of dust was dislodged and this made visibility poor in some areas. A couple of wards in the Riverside Block had to be evacuated because of the dust, which also set off the fire alarms, adding to the general confusion for staff and patients, Gray said.

"Within a few hours the clean up was underway. In our emergency planning, we had envisaged a total loss of power and communication and Large numbers of casualties, but in fact we didn't need this level of response. If an earthquake can be a good experience, we certainly had the right team--one dedicated to maintaining the health of the people of Canterbury. Communication across a[l health services was excellent, with a teleconference held at midday every day involving secondary, primary and aged care services. We also communicated with our own hospital staff using the old "tannoy" system and our chief executive David Meates put out daily global emails to all staff."

In one email, sent six days after the first quake, Meates wrote: "The passion, resilience and resourcefulness of staff during a prolonged state of civil emergency has been superb. Whether you're with public health on the front line; out at Akaroa repairing buildings; a public health nurse working in a welfare centre; in one of the clinical teams across all of our facilities; a member the team from maintenance and engineering busy checking our buildings or one of our cleaners who have been tidying up the mess ... I am proud of the way people have adopted a "can do" attitude and coped with the evolving situation."

The support from health professionals and structural engineers from around the country was huge, Gray said. At the end of the first week, more than 60 extra staff from around the country were working in Christchurch, mostly covering for staff suffering from tiredness or needing to attend to their homes and families. These offers of help had to be managed carefully, with the business development unit arranging accommodation for the out-of-towners in motels.

As the aftershocks diminished in number and intensity, staff and patients began sleeping better. Two staff "chill zones", one in the Princess Margaret Hospital chapel and one at Hillmorton Hospital, were also well used. "By and Large people have coped really well and it's business as usual at Christchurch Hospital now. On the other hand, people who have been badly affected personally will have reactions to the earthquake for quite some time. It's vital they continue looking after themselves and their families," Gray said.
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