26 November 2020
The ANMF (SA Branch) has welcomed the concept of a ‘Hotel for Heroes’ facility, which provides alternative accommodation for health care staff who are worried about transmitting COVID-19 back at their home.
In addition, the State Government this week also announced that anyone who tests positive to COVID-19 in the state will be moved from medi-hotels into a separate medical facility, managed by police and protective security officers. The Old Wakefield Hospital is being considered as the site for the new coronavirus isolation program.
In a further bid to reduce the risk of community transmission, staff working at that medical facility will not be allowed to work at any other medi-hotels or "other high-risk environments, including aged care facilities, correctional facilities or hospitals".
All staff working at the dedicated medical facility will have access to a ‘Hotel for Heroes’ facility, giving them the option of resting away from their homes.
“We do think it is quite a positive move,’’ ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said of the Hotel for Heroes concept.
“We know from speaking to our own members, particularly in the last couple of months when we’ve seen what’s happening in Victoria, and even our own state, we have in fact asked that very question of them, if we did have an outbreak or an increased outbreak here would it be of interest to them to have the opportunity to take up that kind of accommodation?,’’ Ms Dabars told ABC Radio.
“A sizeable portion, about one third of people participating, did indicate a significant interest in that because I think nurses, as well as other essential workers, are extraordinary for their frontline heroism and the fact that they are prepared to engage.
“There is a risk to them directly of course but what we often hear about is their concern about the impact not so much on themselves, amazingly, but on their families, so their families really are top of mind.
“So, we do think that type of facility would likely be well-used. We know during the first (COVID) wave, we actually heard some stories about people taking matters into their own hands because of their concerns.
“I heard of one case, which was quite astounding really … where that person ended up during the period living in a tent in their back garden because of their concern of their risk (of coronavirus) to their family,’’ Ms Dabars told the ABC.
“Our nurses, our midwives, our care workers are engaging in what effectively is such a selfless act, to care for other people, they do deserve to be supported within that.
“We also need to make sure, given the risks that are involved, what other supports are required?
“So, making sure that the facilities that are being made available are close to where they work, so not just always city-centric.
“What about if it does become more widespread, do you have any capacity for housing in the north and the south, and of course the country areas, how do people get safely to and from work?
“We know that when some of our own members here in South Australia volunteered in Victoria we know that they did stay in these types of hero hotels and they were in fact ferried to and from because, of course, if there is a risk, which there is, you don’t also want them on public transport or taking other routes.
“A third component that we all really need to think about, depending on how long this all goes on for, is what is the opportunity for respite? What is the opportunity to have a bit of a break so you’re not trapped in one of these facilities for months and months?
“It is an extraordinary thing to withdraw yourself from your home life, particularly if you do have young children.
“So about having that respite … perhaps have that quarantine period and then be able to go back to their family just to reconnect and live their lives a bit.’’