Car­ing never stops

Nurses are on the job ev­ery day of the year. Crit­i­cally ill pa­tients are of­ten not aware what day it is and Christ­mas Day is no ex­cep­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - Weekend Extra -

THE spirit of Christ­mas is prob­a­bly never far from the av­er­age In­ten­sive Care Unit. Even with­out the tin­sel and Santa Claus cut-outs dec­o­rat­ing The Townsville Hospi­tal’s ICU this week, the unit thrives on hope.

The crit­i­cally ill pa­tients in this 17-bed ward are there as long as it takes to get well.

‘‘We can have peo­ple for three months or overnight,’’ reg­is­tered nurse Amanda Krauk­lis said this week.

‘‘This ICU takes a large catch­ment area and so has a wide variety of pa­tients.

‘‘We can never pre­dict how many pa­tients we will have. There is no elec­tive surgery over Christ­mas.

Mrs Krauk­lis, a shift co-or­di­na­tor in the Townsville unit, will spend De­cem­ber 25 with her fam­ily this year.

But hav­ing worked three of the past five Christ­mas days in the unit she knows roughly how her col­leagues will spend the day.

‘‘Most days in the unit are very sim­i­lar — peo­ple get sick ev­ery day,’’ she said. ‘‘Christ­mas is just an­other day. ‘‘Ob­vi­ously Christ­mas is dif­fer­ent on the staffing side, but pa­tients of­ten have no idea what day it is, be­cause they are un­con­scious or un­well.

‘‘The work is one-to-one with pa­tients. You are as­signed to the pa­tient when they are un­well, you take con­trol of all their needs.’’

Mrs Krauk­lis said some fam­i­lies were likely to spend the day with sick rel­a­tives.

‘‘We have some pa­tients who don’t have any vis­i­tors, but gen­er­ally they have some­one to sup­port them,’’ she said.

Staff, who typ­i­cally work 12-hour shifts, have or­gan­ised a se­cret Santa gif­tex­change and party food.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously we have cho­sen a pro­fes­sion where you know you will be work­ing shift­work,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s hard when your fam­ily is all in Townsville, but we have a ros­ter with op­tions for Christ­mas . . . peo­ple are able to co-or­di­nate their time.

‘‘Christ­mas Day is the most im­por­tant hol­i­day for me. I re­ally en­joy hav­ing one off.’’

In fact she has five days free and big plans to see the Box­ing Day cricket Test in Melbourne.

Photo:TROYRODGERS LRH22506

In­ten­sive care nurse Amanda Krauk­lis

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