Nurses to be honoured on Australia Day


22 January 2021

Nurses and other South Australian frontline heroes including police and emergency workers will be honoured at Tuesday’s Australia Day ceremony with a parade at the Entertainment Centre.

We believe, because it’s been an extraordinary year, that it is very deserving to honour all of the frontline workers on this important day,” Australia Day Council of South Australia chief executive Jan Chorley told The Advertiser.

“They are still protecting us, they are still on high alert. COVID hasn’t gone away, and neither have bushfires.”

Representing the nurses will be Craig Robinson, CALHN’s Nurse Manager/Nurse Unit Manager of COVID testing clinics (Outpatients Central), who set up the state’s first COVID clinic at the RAH, and Tovah Green, Nurse Unit Manager of CALHN’s Clinical Worker Health Service, which was instrumental in ensuring that all staff caring for COVID patients across CALHN were correctly fit mask tested with N95 PPE masks. 

Mr Robinson said the RAH nurse-led clinic was established in less than a day after receiving first notice. “Basically we had about 18 hours from the time of saying ‘It’s a goer, we need to open (a clinic)’. 

“Within that 18-hour period we obviously had to find accommodation for the clinic and then find a home for the service that was in that space and in this case we had to displace the clinical trials area and find them a home, we had to move them out and move us in, we had to find PPE, consumables, had to find staffing (volunteers from OPD and across all programs from within RAH), set up processes for both workflows and ICT for registration into SUNRISE.

“Setting this up would not have been possible without CALHN Nurse Unit Manager Marija Juraga and her staff, the CALHN Executive, Spotless and Celsus staff and the CALHN-wide other staff from across CALHN” Mr Robinson recalls. 

“We opened on the 5th of March. I think we opened about 1pm. We already had clients there waiting at, 12.30pm.’’ 

“Come September, we were then charged with the opening up the COVID clinic at TQEH. We opened up in a new car park in a marquee. With weather conditions we had to obviously find a more conductive environment for staff and patients and that’s why we moved to the old State Bank building (near TQEH) which is where we still reside. We will probably have to move out of there come April when that is marked for demolition to make way for a new redevelopment down at TQEH. 

“Up until last Friday between both clinics we’ve nearly swabbed 23,000 people.

“It was initially our nursing staff at the RAH who actually picked up the Qantas baggage handler cluster at Adelaide Airport and alerted the Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDBC) which resulted in Qantas staff being quarantined. “We’ve got some very experienced nursing staff that work in the COVID clinic, we were swabbing a few people coming through and we’ve had five or six baggage workers from Qantas come through saying they’ve got symptoms ... that’s how we got the Qantas baggage handler cluster,’’ Mr Robinson said.

He said he is very proud of South Australia’s health care response to COVID and its success in containment of a virus which continues to wreak havoc around the world.

“Absolutely, all of South Australia worked extremely well. The leadership from all the LHNs and CDBC and the Department for Health have obviously helped us stay ahead of the game. I’m very, very proud of the way CALHN have actually reacted and got things in place,’’ Mr Robinson said. 

“All the CALHN programs got involved and worked together and that’s why I think we are so prepared now. CALHN have their Infectious Disease Cell meeting weekly which both Tovah and I are members of, which work alongside the Incident Management Team to vet, monitor and action requirements in response to the COVID Pandemic. We’ve done it now for over 12 months, we are like a well-oiled machine.’’