Mildura nurses step up for coronavirus care training

AN upskilled, specialised workforce of health care professionals is ready to deploy if Mildura gets a spike in COVID-19 cases.

More than 50 Mildura Base Hospital nurses have undertaken intensive online training in their own time to prepare them for working in the intensive care unit (ICU) during a COVID-19 outbreak.

They will support the 35 permanent ICU staff if workforce demands dramatically increase due to COVID-19 cases emerging locally.

Nurse unit manager Sue Hale said if staff were caring for a patient with COVID-19 who was on a ventilator, there would be one-on-one care, which could have a big impact on the hospital workforce.

"We need additional nurses who are trained and ready to step up," Ms Hale said.

"It was a terrific response to see 50 people from the organisation take the opportunity to upskill, especially as the training was quite intensive, with some modules taking 40 hours to complete," she said.

The online training was made available free by the Department of Health as part of the COVID-19 response.

To complement the online training, the hospital is now providing orientation and practical skills sessions to ensure nurses who have completed the theoretical training have the chance to spend some time in the ICU.

"This specialised training has been completed in a condensed timeframe, so this hands-on experience is really valuable," Ms Hale said.

Eight nurses who completed the training undertook the orientation and skills training in ICU earlier this week.

The general ward orientation was an opportunity for the nurses to learn where things are kept, how specialised pathology tests are performed, how to use technical ICU equipment and how to access information resources.

The practical skills training involved learning how to set up respiratory equipment and ventilators and how to care for people with COVID-19.

"By upskilling through this training, these nurses are taking positive action to help us, as a community, be prepared for further cases of COVID-19," Ms Hale said.

"As a regional area, we don't have agency services to call on to back up our workforce in times of high demand, so their commitment to this training is invaluable."