A young nurse who contracted Covid-19 said that hospital staff were “catapulted” into the pandemic.
Siobhan Murphy told the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response that the physiological impact of Covid-19 has been “detrimental” to herself and her colleagues.
The 27-year-old, who has no previous underlying health conditions, has not returned to work for almost 14 weeks because of the severe side effects.
She was in hospital for a week after her symptoms escalated.
"I became an in-patient in the hospital where I work, where just a week previous, I would have been standing as a nurse at the bedside, providing care.— Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (@INMO_IRL) July 21, 2020
"To me, the workplace was a hazard."
Staff nurse and INMO member Siobhan testifies before the Oireachtas COVID committee. pic.twitter.com/YAWwO8tRei
She told the committee that she “unjustifiably” contracted Covid-19 when she worked on a coronavirus ward because of staff shortages and staff being “completely overwhelmed”.
“My experience was over-exposure and burnout due to the challenge that we already faced pre-Covid with under-staffing and being overwhelmed with the ever-expanding role of being a staff nurse,” she said.
“We were catapulted into this pandemic but we faced it with strength as a team.
“The exposure of Covid-19 as a nurse was profound and there has been psychological side-effects and symptoms that I am still experiencing today.
“I am still off work, as are three of my colleagues while four colleagues required hospital treatment due to contracting Covid-19.
“Thirteen out 20 colleagues contracted Covid-19.
“I believe I was competent in my PPE, we had extensive training and education on the ward on a daily basis as PPE did change depending on supply.
“Having a phone number or an app for physiological trauma or PTSD is not sufficient.
“We need significant debriefing going forward.
“Our mortality rate was incredibly high.
“We are nurses who save lives but we were fighting a losing battle at the start of Covid-19 and we don’t want to see that again.
“I don’t think I could walk into a work place that isn’t safe and that’s how I felt at times, even with PPE, to me it was a hazard.
“I ended up in hospital for a week due to my symptoms that escalated and out of my control and I had to be monitored and investigated as an inpatient in a hospital where I work, where just a week previous I would have been standing at the bedside providing care to dying patients who succumb to Covid-19.
“That is extremely traumatising and I don’t know if any nurse could overcome that with just a number or app.
“More needs to be done.”
People Before Profit Richard Boyd Barrett said that frontline workers have not been supported in the way they should.
He said: “I find it shocking and frightening that healthcare workers on the frontline are working unsafe hours, with unsafe staffing levels.
“They are being put under pressure even when they have underlying conditions or for financial reasons and that if that persists we are deep trouble if there is a second wave, which is very likely.”