Kind and brave: Nurse comes out of retirement to help with WA’s struggling health system

Nurse comes out of retirement

However, in seeing WA’s struggling health system, as the state braces for the expected rise in COVID patients with the February 5 border reopening, Warland decided she would return to work to help. 

Retiring from the WA Country Health Service just ahead of the onset of the pandemic in 2019, Mrs Warland has since been enjoying a change of pace as a pharmacy assistant in Kojonup, around 90 minutes north of Albany. 

The state government has been strategising as to how to manage the influx of patients, and retired nurses such as Mrs Warland who are willing to return to work are seen as a critical move to help alleviate the pressures on an already buckling health system. 

Many within the system have expressed concern about the sustainability of WA’s health system. The nurses union recently asked the WA government to delay the reopening of the border after its members highlighted their worries regarding the ability of the hospital system to manage with the possibility of soaring COVID cases. 

While having enjoyed the change of pace as a pharmacy assistant, Mrs Warland spoke to the ABC about how returning to work was important in lending a helping hand. 

She shared how two of her friends, both former midwives, had already been placed in new health areas to perform differing duties. 

“They’ve actually been flown all over WA to do COVID clinics,” Mrs Warland explained.

“I think it’s probably important that they should be doing what they’re trained [to do].”

Trained and experienced in administering vaccines, Mrs Warland expects she may be requested to help free-up current staff. 

Likely to make the vaccination process easy for many, Mrs Warland laughed about her easy manner. 

“You get to talk to people [when giving vaccinations],” she said.

Sending the call out for help

Roger Cook, then WA health minister, announced late last year the state government would cover refresher courses for retired midwives and nurses to help with the transition back to work. 

“We will be helping them get back into the workforce,” Mr Cook commented.

“A key focus of the recruitment strategy is attracting experienced nurses and midwives back into the workforce.”

Directly recognising a struggling health system, last September Mr Cook said, “Ambulances are busier than ever, the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) are busier than ever, our EDs are busier than ever.” 

“We just have to continue to make sure that we continue with our hospital expansion project.”

Mrs Warland too assesses that the sector and its personnel have been suffering and continue to suffer from the burnout of staff. 

“Nursing is physically hard and mentally taxing,” she noted. 

She added, “I do wonder if that’s what we’re seeing across the board.”

Priority of vaccinations

Mrs Warland acknowledges disease prevention still to be core in mitigating the pressures on health systems. 

She highlighted, “If we want to keep people healthy and out of our somewhat under-the-pump health system, I believe vaccines are probably one of the ways to do that.” 

In addition to the work she will be undertaking, she is looking forward to the opportunity to travel around the state. 

An exciting prospect, “It’s a chance to see more of WA.”

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