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Nurses under pressure in Sydney

Sydney nurse, Sid Atkinson misses feeling safe in a country where everyone works toward the same goal.

After a 15-month stint working in New Zealand, Sid made the decision to return to her Australian home earlier this year to be closer to her family once again.

The 28 year-old is now in lockdown in Sydney, but working on the frontline as a sexual health nurse, and wondering how her homeland has got it so wrong.

Amidst the pandemic and current lockdown, Sid and her colleagues at the sexual health clinic are working tirelessly to ensure people can still have sexual health checks and treatment, while at the same time wondering if they will be redeployed to other areas such as COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Although Sid is not working in ICU, many of her friends do and she hears their stories and sees their heartache. It’s part of the reason why seeing people protesting the lockdown on the streets of Sydney was “devastating”.

“It’s just so hard to fathom that people can’t think outside their world. I get that people want the right information and to know the vaccination is safe but at the same time you have to consider it’s the only safe way for us to move forward. Misinformation is driving all this.”

“It just made me sad for my friends and for those who are already swamped in ICU. There is such a limited number of nurses already. They were fatigued and burnout already, working 12 hour shifts before the pandemic, so now is the tipping point.”

Sid says if the volume of young people presenting in ICU with COVID-19 grows, it will take its toll on staff – who are often the last person someone sees before they die.

“They’re having to support family who can’t touch their loved ones.”

“There is a real disconnect between the community. I almost want to invite people in for a day, so they can see the medical teams wearing their PPE and see how much effort and exertion goes in to keeping people safe and cared for.”

There have been a total of 15 deaths in Australia from the current community outbreak. On Monday, 207 new cases were recorded.

“It’s really hard to see how we will get out of this,” says Sid.

Sid knows it’s important to take care of her mental health at a time like this and does so through creative and social outlets.

“I post a picture a day, which encourages me to find some good in my day. I did it in the NZ lockdown too - it helps me appreciate the small things.”

Sid gets out everday with her dog, does yoga, and is starting to sew and learn embroidery. Social chats with friends are equally important, and her virtual card nights are a highlight.

“Lockdown is also a good chance to slow down – and I know that emotional support from people is what helps clear my mind and head.”

With many loved ones in New Zealand, Sid finds it hard “not being able to pop on over” and she feels for those with family torn between the two countries.

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