Apr 06, 2020

Care Professionals Forced To Deal With Angry Public Due To Virus Fears

Healthcare workers across the state of NSW are being advised to not wear their scrubs in public after several disturbing reports of staff being assaulted.

Unfortunately, the physical and emotional abuse of healthcare workers has been on the increase in recent years, with hundreds of nurses and midwives being victimised by those in their care and their families while at work.

But now it appears that some health care professionals are also being victimised in public.

As healthcare workers struggle to meet the needs of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, fear and hysteria within the community has resulted in some appalling behaviour towards medical professionals.

According to the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NMA), one intensive care nurse at the Royal North Shore hospital was assaulted while boarding a train for being in her scrubs and another was verbally abused in a supermarket.

“It’s not Australian, it’s not the way Aussies behave,” said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzardin a press conference.

Unbelievably, nurses at the Westmead Hospital have reported being refused service in supermarkets and cafes due to wearing their uniforms or being abused by attendants when walking into petrol stations.

While in Penrith, Police were called to a McDonald’s restaurant after a pregnant healthcare worker was verbally attacked at the drive-through window for potentially ‘spreading the virus.’

In a time where medical and care professionals around the globe are receiving some well-deserved praise for their efforts, it’s embarrassing to think that a very small percentage of Australians are viewing their uniforms as something to fear.

Aged care workers, on the other hand, are choosing to leave their uniforms at work as a measure of infection control, but visitor restrictions have increased tensions with family members looking to visit their relatives.

In a discussion with HelloCare, a lifestyle carer working in aged care detailed the effects that altercation with the public can have on both staff and residents.

“I can honestly say that the first weekend after (visitor) restrictions were put in place, was the worst weekend I’ve experienced in my six years in aged care.”

“Families who were not happy would have their rant and then follow it up by saying ‘it’s not personal,’ but by the time I left on Sunday I was emotionally drained.”

This aged care worker also told HelloCare that some of the family members were very loud when expressing their displeasure and that these constant altercations began to take their toll on residents, many of which had short term memory loss and required ongoing assurance as to what was going on.

It was an awful experience, but I took it as a learning curve and realised I’m not responsible for everyone’s happiness – only the residents, and they’re my main concern.”

“Also learning, I too, have my limits, mentally and to be able to give 150% to the residents, I need to step back and regroup when it becomes too much.”

This anonymous aged care worker then also revealed to HelloCare that fears regarding the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in this woman sending her 12-year-old son to live with her sister.

And that knowing the fear of being away from a loved one allowed her to empathise with families.

“It’s not a fun situation for any of us,” she said, “but we can all make the best of what we’ve got right now if we all just stay calm.”



Photo Credit – iStock – mediaphotos

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  1. I now have to take a change of clothes for when I leave work, because of the verbal abuse, not only by adults but their children as well. A 12 year old boy asked his mother, if he was to stab me with a pen they might see the virus flow out. The mother hissed at me as I walked around the shop, her husband told me to watch my back because of scum spreading the virus like myself. He said it would be hard to find where I live.

    It frightened the life out of me & I broke down when I got home, declaring I’d never work in the medical field again.

    I’m waiting to hear back from my boss, who has asked that I reconsider.


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