Local nurse travels to PNG to battle COVID outbreak
GREAT Ocean Road Health nurse unit manager, Jason Phieler, is heading to Papua New Guinea with the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) as a brutal COVID wave bears down on the nation.
Mr Phieler is joining a team of Australian health professionals who have been deployed to PNG for 28 days to assist local medical professionals at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
“Unfortunately, the PNG health system is completely overwhelmed,” Mr Phieler said.
It has been reported that at some testing sites up to 80 per cent percent of those tested received a positive COVID result.
Fake news and misinformation on social media have been blamed for making a bad situation worse and helping the virus spread.
“Our role over the next 28 days is to partner with and mentor the emergency intensive care unit, set-up swabbing stations and a higher dependency unit and increase ventilator capacity,” Mr Phieler said.
“Hopefully I can pass on my knowledge and experience in preparing and implementing COVID outbreak procedures and policies.”
Great Ocean Road Health chief executive officer Sandy Chamberlin said although Jason will be missed at the Lorne campus, they are supportive of staff embracing further development and training.
“We as an organisation believe in supporting our neighbours and assisting as we can,” she said.
“Jason is a very experienced nurse unit manager … he is very dedicated to the region and the Surf Coast”
In Australia Jason looks after the urgent care activity and acute admissions so he will be well prepared for the task ahead of him.
“Jason is there to assist and mentor and train local staff and he is fantastic at that, it’s a real skill of his, he is a great mentor to all our staff and we wish him well and that he comes back safely,” Ms Chamberlin said.
“It’s frightening what’s happening in PNG, they are into another wave of COVID.
“I was recently in Cairns and there was a lot of concern about the situation in PNG.”
Australia’s northernmost inhabited island, Boigu Island, is only about five kilometres from Papua New Guinea and many fly-in fly-out workers travel there from the mainland on a regular basis.
Jason will be gone for six weeks in total, a four-week deployment and then he will have to quarantine for two weeks when he returns.
“For us it is a win-win situation we get to gift someone our expertise and he brings back knowledge which he shares with our organisation,” Ms Chamberlain said. “We highly encourage our staff to be involved in assisting our neighbours.”