In the Media: April News

Damp face masks behind Covid-19 cases - Canterbury DHB

Radio New Zealand News, 22 April 2020.

Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says the union's members were speaking out about a supply shortage and gowns that ripped, for a week before anything changed.

"Our memebers, for a long time now, have been raising concerns about the quality PPE gear that wasnt available to them. So it's unfair to lay the blame at the fact that the nursing staff not having the availability or not changing regularly when actually there wasn't the stock available..."

'PPE breach' blamed for Christchurch healthcare workers catching Covid-19

Radio New Zealand News, 22 April 2020.

Nuku said PPE availability had improved across the country over the past four weeks, but it was important to ensure that "steady supply" continued.

"We need to make sure that we've got PPE to deal with Covid-19, should we have cluster outbreaks, but we also need to make sure that we've got supplies to cope with winter ailments."

Health workers unions welcome personal protective gear review

Radio New Zealand News, 21 April 2020. 

Health workers' unions hope that an external review of personal protective gear, PPE, mean they never again have to worry about facing a pandemic without protection.

Coronavirus: Top-level investigation into Health Ministry launched as health workers say they still don't have enough PPE

Newshub, 21 April 2020.

After weeks of health workers raising concerns about access to personal protective equipment (PPE), a top-level investigation has been announced into the Ministry of Health's management of the situation. 

"We're hearing stories of it being locked away, or under lock and key, or it being rationed or [workers being told] 'you're getting this for the shift'. That's not good enough," Kerri Nuku, NZ Nurses Organisation (NZNO) President says.

Doctors and nurses relieved at govt's cautious approach

Radio New Zealand News, 21 April 2020. 

Front-line doctors and nurses who braced for the worst under Covid-19 are relieved the government is staying cautious.

Kerri Nuku said, "One nurse text me tonight and she said to me, oh my gosh, 'I'm still vulnerable', because she'll still be doing community testing... This isn't getting any easier for those one the front-line"

Prisons are winning the war against Covid-19 as rest homes struggle

Stuff, 18 April 2020

E Tū Director Sam Jones and New Zealand Nursing Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku saythe advice needed to change to respect the genuine fears of staff.

Kerri Nuku comments that "Dr Bloomfield has said previously 'be safe and feel safe', and that's a really critical principle to abide by for any health professional ... and for many, they are saying we're not feeling safe."

Nurses want assurances on PPE

Radio New Zealand Morning Report, 17 April 

Most nurses worked right through Alert Level 4 and they still have concerns about how to do their jobs during the pandemic. Kerri Nuku says,"as a health system we need to be making sure that we're responding by having testing done...

Number of healthcare workers diagnosed with Covid-19 doubles in a week

Stuff, 17 April 2020 

NZNO has rejected the idea that healthcare workers were largely getting sick outside of hospitals, or that inadequate use of PPE was part of the problem. NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the assertion more than half of the Covid-19 positive staff contracted the virus outside work was "not at all believable".

Support for health workers making personal sacrifices during COVID-19 pandemic

16 April 2020 

In a bid to support nurses and other health workers, New Zealand Nurses' Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku has created a response package, He Kete Tapuhi Ora.

PPE lack, not holidays to blame for nurse COVID cases

Waatea News, 7 April 2020 

NZNO is rejecting analysis released by Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield indicating more than half of nursing and other health care staff tested positive for COVID-19 contracted it overseas or outside the workplace.

Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says it’s an attempt to blame staff for bringing COVID-19 into the workplace without any real evidence or proper investigation.

Wellington nurse tests positive for Covid-19

Otago Daily Times, 17 April 2020 

Two nurses who were confirmed positive with Covid-19 at Waikato Hospital... alleged through NZNO that they were told to take off PPE by senior staff.

Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said, "Now we're at the situation where we've got a nurse that's tested positive, I think those anxieties have become real, and we're still hearing concerns about the lack of PPE gear that is being made available to nurses on the floor."

Wellington nurse caring for infected patients tests positive

New Zealand Herald, 17 April 2020 

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said their thoughts were with the nurse. "We've got a seriously very nervous workforce," she said. Heading into the Covid-19 outbreak there were concerns about system fragility and a "fear of the unknown".

What industry leaders make of alert level 3 impacts on their sector

Radio New Zealand News, 17 April 2020 

Kerri Nuku said: "What we have to be mindful of is ... that we probably will see a lot more tests or be required to do more testing as our bubbles get bigger." Nuku also said it was important to ensure adequate staffing for the long term - "this is about being in a marathon not a sprint... I think at the moment it is early days."

Christchurch DHB to provide more PPE to Burwood Hospital but nurses are scared it's not enough

Newshub, 15 April 2020. 

NZ Nurses Organisation president Kerri Nuku says staff at the hospital's GG COVID-19 ward want to comfort the sick but don't have the protective gear they need. 

"All you want to do is provide the care and the time to be with them and nurse them. Not having to struggle against what feels like the politics of the system.

Coronavirus: Burwood Hospital staff given access to N-95 masks, visors

Radio New Zealand News, 16 April 2020. 

The Nurse's Organisation says despite the guidelines, health staff should always have been able to make their own decisions about what they needed to wear to stay safe.

Coronavirus: Frontline workers finding alternative accommodation to protect their families from COVID-19

Newshub, 14 April 2020. 

Kerri Nuku from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation says some nurses are also going to extreme lengths if they need to isolate.

"People were having makeshift rooms being made in garages, tents were being put up, caravans moved on-site," she says.

Coronavirus: New national PPE distribution system introduced after faults and shortages

Stuff, 13 April 2020. 

The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation claim health workers have routinely complained they are not being given adequate equipment.

"We're always being constantly reassured that they aren't rationing PPE gear. There seems to be a breakdown in communication with what is actually happening. We have nurses reporting they don't have access to adequate PPE," Kerri Nuku said.

'Requests fallen on deaf ears': Rest homes consider buying coronavirus tests

Stuff, 14 April 2020. 

The kaiwhakahaere of the Nurses Organisation, Kerri Nuku, said mandatory testing of staff was something her union would need to discuss before giving the green light to it.

"When these nurses go home from work every night, some of them are sleeping out in the garage in the car, because they don't want to cross contaminate with the family, or they're using a separate bathroom or something. So I think it's not because people are not being cautious."

Coronavirus: DHB casual workers complain of cut hours

Radio New Zealand News, 14 April 2020. 

The union says the State Services Commission has advised organisations like DHBs to pay staff in that situation, acknowledging they won't have access to the wage subsidy scheme.

Industrial advisor David Wait says, "We'll be going to ever DHB today, and ask them to follow through on that commitment, and to follow through on those State Services Commission guidelines that they should have been following from the very start." 

Rosewood exposes broken elderly care model

Newroom, 15 April 2020. 

During a crisis like the Covid-19 outbreak, there should be the ability for these facilities to increase their workforce, Nuku says.

“I’m not sure [the current model] allows that to happen, to respond to the changing needs of such an external environment and the needs of the patient.”

Coronavirus: Resthomes look to buy their own Covid-19 tests

Radio New Zealand News, 14 April 2020. 

Health workers were already taking extraordinary steps to keep residents and patients safe, Kerri Nuku said.

"When these nurses go home from work every night, some of them are sleeping out in the garage in the car, because they don't want to cross contaminate with the family, or they're using a separate bathroom or something. So I think it's not because people are not being cautious."

Coronavirus: PPE still not available to some nurses at Burwood Hospital, site of six COVID-19 deaths

Newshub, 14 April 2020. 

The organisation's president Kerri Nuku says she spoke to a nurse on Tuesday who'd been spat on by a possible COVID-19 patient, and had neither a face shield nor a change of gown. 

"It's not okay, three weeks on, to still be asking for PPE gear," she said.

"If you're a politician, would you feel safe enough? Then go on and wash it off and then go on to the next patient in the same gown because rationalisation has said you can't have more than this on that one shift?"

'Requests fallen on deaf ears': Rest homes consider buying Covid-19 tests

Radio New Zealand News, 14 April 2020. 

Nuku said some DHBs were still reluctant to give staff access to personal protective equipment and she was glad to hear the Ministry of Health was considering whether it should take over from them in handing it out instead.

"Because it's so patchy, I think our nurses will be reassured if somebody gets the flow down to their services right. If that means taking it back to the ministry, then so be it, but our nurses want to feel that the supply when they ask for it, that we should still have access to that PPE gear."

COVID-19: Publicly-funded workers ineligible for subsidy 'should continue to be paid' - PM

Newshub, 14 April 2020.

Industrial advisor, David Wait says, "Many of these people work regularly and close to full time hours. By not following these guidelines the DHBs are placing healthcare workers and their families in financial peril and risk losing these workers permanently at a time when nurses all over the country are being put into isolation."

Paying 'casual' workers during Covid-19 lockdown: Are government agencies ignoring official advice?

Radio New Zealand News, 13 April 2020. Industrial Advisor David Wait.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial adviser David Wait said it made "no sense" that state sector groups like DHBs would not follow the above guidelines.

"We are talking about the wellbeing of 7000 people and their families. DHBs need to look after healthcare workers so that they can look after us."

Coronavirus: PPE availability about rationing, not safety - Nurses Organisation

Radio New Zealand News, 8 April 2020. 

Kerri Nuku said, "The first thing that the guideline talks about is how wellbeing is important... We're hearing still comments from nurses around the country that we're being restricted on use of the PPE gear and straight away that brings into question the intent of this document." 

Covid-19: Health workers PPE advice focused on supply, not wellbeing - Nurses Organisation

Radio New Zealand News, 8 April 2020. 

Nurses Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the advice did not focus enough of the wellbeing of staff.

"It seems to be motivated by a more rationing of PPE gear as opposed to giving reassurance that it is freely accessible to members should they request it and should it be needed," she said.

GUEST BLOG: The Lockdown With Bryan Bruce Day 12: How are our Nurses Coping?

The Daily Blog, 7 April 2020.

Bryan Bruce has an afternoon the Co-leaders of the New Zealand Nurses Union, Grant Brookes and Keri Nuku, generously gave of their time to talk with me about how nurses and other frontline health workers were coping during this worrying time.

Covid-19: Spitting incidents rising - health, security workers

Radio New Zealand News, 2 April 2020.

Nurses say an increase in the number of people spitting at them is putting them at higher risk of getting COVID-19 [coronavirus].

"It's just unacceptable but it seems to be a trend that we're seeing unfortunately more or more over the last few days... This really shows the need for nurses to have enough PPE [personal protective equipment] on hand at all times."

Coronavirus: Nurses tipped to run ventilators feeling stressed

Radio New Zealand News, 1 April 2020. 

"We've got nurses and others that are being brought in to train to use these ventilators, so we could have as many ventilators as the government can afford, and what I'm hearing from staff is that the pressure to train to manage these ventilators in an unreasonable way." 

Covid-19: NZ sources more ventilators amid rampant global demand

Radio New Zealand News, 1 April. 

"We've got nurses and others that are being brought in to train to use the ventilators, so we could have as many ventilators as the government can afford, and from what I'm hearing from staff, the pressure to train to manage these ventilators is overwhelming in an unreasonable way."

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