Tag Archives: COVID19

Vaccination Celebration

2020 was ‘Year of the Nurse’, but it wasn’t until 2021 – when we had access to COVID-19 vaccinations – that we celebrated.

If you had told me in March 2020 that I would be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the end of March 2021, I would have told you you were crazy. And yet, here we are. I had my second injection this morning. Yay!


Dose 2 of 2 ✅ #COVID19 #COVIDvaccine

In keeping with the TGA guidelines (read them if you’re a health professional: www.tga.gov.au/advertising-covid-19-vaccines-australian-public), I shall not use “the tradename and/or active ingredient of the specific vaccine” I was given. That little formality out of the way, I’d like to thank the following:

Science and Scientists who, in less than a year, have developed eleven vaccines. Not all of them have completed clinical trial or the WHO approval process yet (more info here), but still… Amazing.

Australia’s federal government for shutting the borders on 20 March 2020, and securing the purchase and manufacture of safe, effective, free COVID-19 vaccinations.

Queensland’s state government for being humble, smart and brave enough to seek and follow the health advice. As I’ve blogged previously (here, here and here). those of us living and working in the health sector in Queensland have a lot to be grateful for. Queensland has a lower incidence of COVID-19 than any other state or territory (source), and despite having a larger population than New Zealand has had fewer COVID19 cases and deaths (source and source). This all holds true today (30 March 2021) despite a current Brisbane lockdown and state-wide mandate to wear masks indoors because of recent community transmission.

My employer for including my small but dynamic team in the 1A rollout. My clinical role takes me to pretty-much every ward in the hospital, so I’ve be carrying the anxiety of being a potential super-spreader for the 12 months. A weight has been lifted. Thank you @CairnsHHS.

Finally, thanks to Frankie and Laura for giving both of my injections so painlessly and professionally. Thanks for the lollypops too :-).

I am very, very grateful to be be amongst the thousands of Australian nurses having a vaccination celebration.

Wait. There’s More.

Check-out more stories about Australian Nurses also having a vaccination celebration via this online curation: wakelet.com/@metaRN (recommended – it’s uplifting to scroll through all the news stories featuring heaps of nurses getting and giving COVID-19 jabs).

End

Thanks for visiting. As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Curious about the vaccine or when you’re likely to be invited to have it? Check out this website: health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines

Paul McNamara, 30 March 2021

Short URL: meta4RN.com/vax 

Twenty Twenty Hindsight

Back on 1 January 2020 I published a blog post called “20 Tweetable Fun Facts for 2020: Year of the Nurse” [link]. Anyway, not sure of you’ve heard about it, but there has been a worldwide pandemic since then. Hardly anyone talks about it and it’s rarely mentioned in the media [insert eye roll emoji here].

Rather than ramble on trying to make meaning out of a chaotic year, I’ve tried to summarise 2020 in a collage of photos I’ve taken of social-distancing floor decals and a QR code. It’s not especially profound, but it kind-of tells a story.

2020

That’s it really.  Regular readers will note that this post is just a reworked version of my post-holiday blog post [link]. The only thing to add is that an idea from 2012 re using QR codes in health care settings should be revisited now  – QR codes have never had better market penetration or acceptance.

End

It’s an intentionally short blog post. It’s been a weird year and I’m tired.

Thanks for reading. As always, you’re welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.

All the best for 2021.

Paul McNamara, 31 December 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/MMXX

2020 has been weird.

2020 has been weird.

2020 has been weird. Maybe one day we will look back with nostalgic affection at March 2020. That is when we were first introduced to the notion of standing on a floor-marking to maintain social distancing while in a queue. In a time when the economy has slipped in to recession as an unavoidable side-effect of pandemic suppression, at least the social distancing floor decal/sticker business is booming, I guess.

Sources

I first took a photo of a social distancing floor sticker in June 2020 www.instagram.com/June

In August 2020 I created my first collage of social distancing floor decals www.instagram.com/August

My second collage was at the end of September 2020 www.instagram.com/September

Then, while on a driving holiday up the Queensland coast in October, I thought it would be a good opportunity to record the trip in a very 2020 way:
Gold Coast www.instagram.com/GoldCoast
Noosa www.instagram.com/Noosa
Yeppoon www.instagram.com/Yeppoon
Airlie Beach www.instagram.com/AirlieBeach
Townsville www.instagram.com/Townsville
Mission Beach www.instagram.com/MissionBeach
and back home in Cairns www.instagram.com/Cairns

Nomenclature

We were introduced to the term “social distancing” before it was realised that it would be better to promote social cohesion, and change the name to “physical distancing”. It’s true – the latter is a much more accurate and kind descriptor, but the original term stuck in the public conversation much more than the rebrand.

End

That’s it for this blog post. It’s not terribly deep or meaningful, it’s just recording three dozen photos of COVID-19 floor markers for prosperity, and to acknowledge that 2020 has been weird. Speaking of weird, while in a queue it’s fun to yell “the floor is lava!” as you jump from one social distancing dot to the next. 🙂

As always, please feel free to provide feedback in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 1 November 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/weird

Queensland’s #COVID19 Comparative Advantage

New Zealand has attracted praise for its management of COVID-19, and rightly so. As at the beginning of October where the pandemic is spreading at an alarming rate in many places (see the WHO dashboard), New Zealand has kept the rate of infections low.

It’s interesting as a Queenslander to compare our numbers with New Zealand. Although geographically New Zealand and Queensland are very different, the size of our populations is very similar.

How has Queensland fared with coronavirus compared to New Zealand?

Good. Really good. Here’s the data as at 1st October 2020:

Queensland New Zealand
Population (million) 5.2 5.1
Total Confirmed COVID-19 Cases 1157 1492
COVID-19 Deaths 6 25
Active COVID-19 Cases 4 53
New COVID-19 Cases Last 24 Hours 0 12

Maybe that data has a bigger impact as a chart. Actually let’s make that two charts:

ONE

Comparing Queensland and New Zealand Population size, COVID-19 Deaths, Active COVID-19 Cases and New COVID-19 Cases as at 01/10/20

 TWO

Comparing Queensland and New Zealand Total Confirmed COVID-19 Cases as at 01/10/20

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts in May 2020 and August 2020, I’m not sharing this info as a macabre version of the Bledisloe Cup. It’s not a competition. It’s certainly not a game. There have been over a million deaths, and there are more to come: countless families across the world are in mourning. I’m sharing this because – like nearly other health professional in Queensland – I do not take my good fortune for granted.

The Disclaimer

I’m not an epidemiologist, nor do I have any qualifications or experience in public health. It’s easy to imagine that people who do have that background rolling their eyes and slapping their foreheads at this amateurish, dumb comparison between two populations without taking all the demographic, geographic, climatic and social variables into account.

I’m not pretending to be an expert in this stuff, I am just sharing raw data and counting my blessings. I hope it gives other Queenslanders some reassurance and pride too.  That’s the aim.

Data Sources

Queensland population www.qgso.qld.gov.au/statistics
New Zealand population www.stats.govt.nz/topics/population
Queensland COVID-19 info www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/statistics (data extracted on 01/10/20)
New Zealand COVID-19 info www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-current-situation/covid-19-current-cases (data extracted on 01/10/20)

End

Thanks for visiting. As always, you are welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 2 October 2020

Short URL: meta4RN.com/compare

Batman is a hero. I am a health professional.

A few weeks ago I had an instarant (ie: a rant on Instagram) that went like this:

 

Here is why I reject the “health care heroes” narrative. Don’t get me wrong – most of my colleagues are amazing, but they’re just everyday compassionate, creative, funny, clever and skilled health professionals who support the people who need it, but ONLY if it’s safe to do so.

If you’re dead on the floor and it’s dangerous for me to enter the room, I will leave you dead on the floor. Sorry, but that is what a sensible health professional will do.

A “hero” might ignore their own safety and expose themself to danger unnecessarily. It’s great that these people exist, but don’t expect it from a sensible health professional.

Same deal with the #COVID19 thing: if you’re gasping for breath and need a nurse, s/he will rush to your aid, but only AFTER donning personal protective equipment. You may be familiar with the DRABCD life support acronym: the first D is for Danger – nothing else happens until that is addressed.

A hero might bypass the notion of self-protection, but a sensible health professional will not intentionally put themself in harm’s way.

THAT is why I think we should knock-off the “health care hero” narrative. It’s a foolish, dangerous and inaccurate way of describing a health worker’s job/intent.

I am good at my job, and that is enough. I have no intention to risk my life to save the life of a stranger.

I am a health professional. If you need a hero you should ask Batman to help you.

#nurse #nurses #nursing #covid19 #healthcarehero #healthhero #healthcareheroes #healthcareheros #healthheroes #healthheros Instagram and hashtags, eh? 🙄

A Calmer, More Sciency Version

Look, I know that the “healthcare hero” thing comes from a good place. People who use it are expressing gratitude. Thank you for that. It is lovely of you to do so.

On the weekend while browsing Twitter I came across a much more articulate, complete and sciency argument against the hero narrative.

I thoroughly recommend that you read it the paper, here’s the citation and link:

Stokes‐Parish, J., Elliott, R., Rolls, K. & Massey, D. (2020), Angels and Heroes: The Unintended Consequence of the Hero Narrative. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. doi.org/10.1111/jnu.12591

A Song For Health Professionals

Songs can be inspiring, right? I would like my colleagues to take inspiration from the wise words of Paper Lace (1974) – don’t be a hero + keep your pretty head low. 🙂

 

End

That’s it. Thanks for reading the blog.

I hope the song brings you a giggle and/or nostalgic joy.

I really hope you have 5 or 10 minutes to devote to the journal article. Although they don’t mention Batman, the Australian nurse academics who wrote the paper did a much better job of expressing my thoughts than I have.

As always, you are welcome to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 1 September 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/hero

Cairns Nursing and Midwifery Awards 2020

To celebrate the World Health Organisation declaring 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) established an inaugural award celebration which is proudly sponsored by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation (FNQHF)

The awards were established to formally recognise the excellence in nursing and midwifery across CHHHS.

There were more than 100 very competitive nominations across all five categories which were short-listed by a committee, and then were assessed against the criteria by a judging panel that included:
Debra Cutler, Executive Director Nursing & Midwifery Services, CHHHS
Tony Williamson, Chief Executive Officer, FNQHF
Andrea O’Shea, Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Cairns Services
Tracey Morgan, Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Rural and Remote Services

Award winners were announced on 12th May 2020 to coincide with International Nurses Day via an online event – the physical distancing/social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow a face-to-face presentation at the time. On Monday 3rd of August we finally had the opportunity to present winners of the Nursing and Midwifery awards with their trophies in person.

The five award winners are:

Excellence in Workforce – Alison Weatherstone

Alison is the Midwifery Unit Manager at Innisfail’s Maternity Department. Alison’s nomination outlined an outstanding commitment to improving work environments to ensure a safe, collaborative and collegial workplace.

Excellence in Clinical Practice – Therese Howard

Therese is a Sexual Health Nurse with Tropical Public Health Services and was nominated for her commitment and advocacy in her work with the Queensland Health Syphilis Register. Therese has dedicated the last 10+ years of her career doing this work and has done so in a respectful, friendly, supportive and efficient manner.

Excellence in Education – Paul McNamara

Paul is the Clinical Nurse Consultant with Consultation Liaison Psychiatry Services and demonstrates an outstanding commitment to teaching and learning. A familiar face on the CHHHS Facebook page with his “Clean hands, clear head” initiative, Paul dedicates a lot of his time educating and supervising colleagues whilst also keeping up with his Instagram/Twitter/Facebook page meta4RN.

Excellence in Leadership – Kelly Pollock

Kelly is the Nurse Unit Manager at Tablelands Community Health. Since Kelly has started in her role, she has inspired the team to develop their skills in the area of patient centred care so they can offer the best practice for patients and community clients.

Excellence in Research – Bronwyn Hayes

Bronwyn is the Clinical Nurse Consultant Transplant Coordinator for CHHHS and integrates knowledge and evidence into practice to improve patient outcomes. In 2016, Bronwyn completed her PhD with her thesis focused on workforce issues in Australian and New Zealand haemodialysis units.

L-R: Kelly Pollock, Paul McNamara, Bronwyn Hayes, Alison Weatherstone, Debra Cutler, Tony Williamson and Therese Howard

Four Notes

  1. Many thanks to those who generously took the time to nominate me and my colleagues – it was genuinely surprising to be nominated, and was very humbling and gratifying to be recognised. Thank you.
  2. A huge thank you too to the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation who supplied the trophies and the prize of enrolment, flights and accommodation at next year’s Australian College of Nursing’s National Nursing Forum.
  3. The text above is a slightly altered copy and paste of emails that were sent in May following the online presentation and August after the in-person presentation. I’m plonking it here on the blog so that it is searchable/able to be found in future… after all, if it’s not googleable, did it really happen?
  4. Would have I created this blog post if I wasn’t amongst the award winners? I don’t know – maybe. It’s ‘on-brand’ to promote nurses/nursing recognition via this blog: I have made a habit of celebrating Nurses on the Australia Day Honours list in recent years (see here). That said, it does feel like a bit of a brag, but it is something I’m proud of, not ashamed of.

End

That’s it. Thanks for reading – as always, you are welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 28 August 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/awards

Liaison in the Time of #COVID19

.

This page is an accompaniment to a brief presentation at the Inaugural ACMHN Consultation Liaison Special Interest Group online webinar via zoom – it is just a place to plonk things that I’ll talk about in case anyone wants to clarify anything for themselves.

So, here goes:

As noted on a previous blog post, Queensland’s population is much bigger than Australia’s smaller states/territories, but falls a long way short of Australia’s two largest states. 

 

Queensland’s population size compares better to New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and Singapore than other Australian states and territories.

 

All the data below is true as of 1 August 2020 (as you probably know, 1st of August = the Horses Birthday in Australia).

 

It is interesting to compare the number of Covid-19 cases across similar-sized populations. Obviously there are many differences between the populations too – not the least of which is land area – so I’m doubtful that a proper epidemiologist or public health professional would put much stock in this comparison. That disclaimer aside, it is noted that Queensland has a larger population than New Zealand – which is held-up as a shining-light of Covid-19 control – but, to date, has a lower incidence of Covid-19 positive people.

 

I’m not sharing the data about number of Covid-19 deaths as a macabre version of State of Origin or the Bledisloe Cup. It’s not a competition. It’s certainly not a game. Thousands of families across the world are in mourning. That said, isn’t it interesting how low Singapore’s death rate is compared to that of Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Norway? Both New Zealand and Queensland have been very fortunate to date in limiting the number of deaths.

 

Comparing the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours (as at 01/08/20) is also interesting.

 

Links to Data Sources
New Zealand
Ireland
Queensland
Norway
Singapore 

 

In the session there will be mention of the “Clean Hands. Clear Head.” strategy to embed anxiety-management into everyday clinical practice. More info about his via the blog post and video of the same name: meta4RN.com/head

 

Also in the session there will mention of “Positive Practice Environment (the other PPE)” Again, there is more info about this via a blog of the same name: meta4RN.com/PPE

 

Finally, here is a link to the Prezi that was used to make the video. My understanding is that all these pretty Prezis will stop working at the end of 2020 when everyone stops using flash (just letting you know in case you’re looking at this page in 2021).

 

In Support of our Victorian Colleagues

 

End

That’s it. I hope some of this info is of interest. As always, you’re welcome to leave feedback via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 3 August 2020

Short URL: meta4RN.com/zoom

One. Step. Beyond.

Stories on the TV that speak of the mental health impacts of COVID-19/other issues nearly always end with words to the effect of, “And if this has raised any issues for you help is always available. Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.”

In keeping with Mindframe media guidelines, it’s good that help-seeking information is included in these stories, but it doesn’t cater for the full spectrum of mental health problems.

Lifeline, for example, is a crisis support line, akin to lifesavers plucking people from the dangerous surf. It’s vital, but it’s not a “one size fits all” service (nor should we expect it to be).

Anyway, most of us would rather early intervention/prevention rather than crisis intervention. It’s better to learn how to swim than rely on someone saving you from drowning.

 

The Stepped Care Model of Mental Health

Self Portrait 26/04/20

The Stepped Care model aims to ensure that people have streamlined access to the right services for their needs over time, and as their needs change. There is more information about this available from more reputable sources than my blog, eg:  Northern Queensland Primary Health Network, Connect to Wellbeing, or your local public health network.

A short, amateurish, overview is this:

If you’re on the lowest (blue) step, you’re doing OK. Keep those healthy relationships and habits going.

If you’re on the second-lowest (green) step you probably should be more intentional about protecting your social and emotional wellbeing. Chat to people you love/trust, and see if any of the digital resources at Head To Health match where you’re at.

If you’re on the middle (yellow) step it’s definitely time to connect with someone. If you’re a Nurse or Midwife that could be NMSupport in the first instance,  if you’re in North Queensland you may consider contacting Connect to Wellbeing. Elsewhere you may need to google or go via healthdirect re equivalent services.

If you’re on the second-top (orange) step, don’t muck-about: make a double appointment to see your GP. S/he won’t necessarily reach straight for the prescription pad. The GP may discuss making a Mental Health Treatment Plan, which should include your goals  and – if you and your GP agree it’s worth a try – a referral to a specialist mental health professional.

If you’re on the top (red) step you will almost certainly want to make contact with your local mental health service. In Queensland phone 1300 64 2255 (1300 MH CALL). Outside of Queensland you should be able to track-down your local service via healthdirect.

One. Step. Beyond.

This blog post was inspired by chatting with hospital colleagues who were not familiar with the Stepped Care Model of Mental Health. Many thanks to these terrifically impressive people who are definitely NOT heroes: they’re just everyday compassionate, creative, funny, clever and skilled health professionals who – in a crisis – will go one step beyond to support the people who need it.

One last thing. If, like me, you have a foot one step beyond your usual step, perhaps the jaunty Madness (1979) song “One Step Beyond” will provide temporary distraction and cheer. 🙂

End

Thanks very much for visiting. As always your feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 30 July 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/step

An end of April #COVID19 snapshot (Queensland perspective)

The chart below shows confirmed cases of #COVID19 as at 4.30pm (GMT/UTC + 10:00h) on Thursday 30/04/20. The chart sourced via www.covid19data.com.au

I’m not sharing this info as a macabre version of State of Origin or the Bledisloe Cup. It’s not a competition. It’s certainly not a game. Thousands of families across the world are in mourning.

Nevertheless, it is useful to have a benchmark of how we are faring. To give us perspective it’s useful to compare progress across areas/populations. As per the list below, Queensland’s population size compares better to New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and Singapore than other Australian states and territories.

Population Comparison (Australian states/territories + selected countries, small to large)
Northern Territory 245,000
Australian Capital Territory 428,000
Tasmania 535,000
South Australia 1.75 million
Western Australia 2.63 million
New Zealand 4.82 million
Ireland 4.94 million
Queensland 5.11 million
Norway 5.37 million
Singapore 5.85 million

Victoria 6.63 million
New South Wales 8.12 million

So What?

Hopefully, the encouraging data in this chart serves as an anxiolytic for Queensland health workers and their patients. That’s the intent.

End

That’s it. If you know an anxious Queenslander please share this information with them.

Paul McNamara, 1 May 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/qld

Supporting Nurses’ Psychological and Mental Health

An editorial by Jill Mabel and Jackie Bridges published on 22 April 2020 in Journal of Clinical Nursing explores the evidence regarding supporting nurses’ psychological and mental health during #COVID19.

Q: Why nurses?
A: Nurses are at the bedside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In previous pandemics/epidemics nurses experienced more occupational stress and resultant distress when compared to other professions.

And – little known fact – even when there isn’t a pandemic to deal with, nurses are more prone to suicide than most employed people. The authors are in the UK, but it’s the same in Australia.

Although there are lessons to be learned from SARS, MERS and Ebola, overall the evidence for supporting nurses’ psychological and mental health wellbeing during a pandemic is not very strong.

That disclaimer out of the way, here comes my interpretation of the key points from the paper:

1. Keep Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Mind.
Starting at the base isn’t basic. It’s essential.
Start with
– hydration
– nutrition
– rest and recovery
– shelter from the storm

2. Safety is vital.

For
#COVID19 that means that PPE is a non-negotiable need (don’t take my word for it, see Maslow’s hierarchy above).

3. Prioritise wellbeing.
Organisations that ask nurses to care for people who are #COVID19 suspected/positive should ensure that nurse wellbeing is a priority.
Q: How?
A: Insist on breaks, and – this often goes against the nursing culture/habits – make sure that nurses quarantine time for mutual support.
Q: Mutual support? What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?
A: meta4RN.com/footy

4. Individual Support PRN.
Individual support should be available for nurses too.
Q: What sort of support?
A: It’s not one size fits all. It depends on what step you’re on.

Self Portrait 26/04/20

On the lower steps, support via trusted, loving family and friends might be all that’s required. That, and being intentional about self care.

5. Self-Care.
If you’re getting stressed on the boss’s time, you should try to get de-stressed on the boss’s time too. It doesn’t have to take hours, you might be able to make regular snack-sized self-care part of your everyday nursing practice.

6. Positive Practice Environment.
Good communication, a collegial multidisciplinary team, creative and collective problem-solving,and working as a team can go a long way towards dampening anxiety.
There’s more than one kind of PPE.
Aim for a Positive Practice Environment.

7. Time Out.
Embed safe places in the workplace. Something like a NOvid room would do the trick.

8. Supportive Senior Staff.
Last, but not least, senior nurses and other people in the hospital hierarchy should make themselves more available and visible than ever.
Care goes in. Crap comes out.

End

That’s the summary of the key messages I took from the Journal of Clinical Nursing editorial. Check it out yourself via doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15307

Many thanks to Jackie Bridges (one of the paper’s authors) for giving positive feedback regarding the original Twitter thread. This blog post is a replica of that thread, just with most typos corrected.

Thanks for reading. As always you’re welcome to leave feedback and/or add your own ideas in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 26 April 2020

Short URL: meta4RN.com/COVID19