‘They’ve come to the fore, incredibly.’


Despite shutdown measures morale is still high among Tasmanian hospital pharmacists, as stakeholders take to social media to recognise the hard work of those on the front line

As hospital pharmacists, pharmacy workers and other health professionals in north-western Tasmania settle into two weeks of quarantine, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia stands in solidarity with them, says chief executive Kristin Michaels.

On Sunday, Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein and Minister for Health Sarah Courtney announced that from Monday, the North West Regional Hospital (NWRH) and the North West Private Hospital (NWPH) will close for 14 days in a bid to secure health services in the area.

All North West Regional/North West Private Hospital staff and their households were required to undertake 14 days of isolation quarantine from their last shift.

The region has become a hotspot for COVID-19; of the five deaths recorded in the island state from the novel coronavirus at the time of writing, four were at the North West Regional Hospital.

More than 5000 people are affected by the quarantine measure.

Ms Michaels told the AJP that SHPA members in the area have been in contact with the organisation and were receiving support.

“They’ve definitely seen greater admissions, obviously – but it’s felt that the staff spirit was pretty high,” she said.

“We send all our love and our best wishes with them, and hopefully it’s a short period of isolation and not more.

“Whilst Tasmania has a centralised system, they do have a really good, collegiate way of working and my sense from the Tasmanian branch is that there’s strong support and they’re doing what they can to support their colleagues.”

On Monday, Premier Gutwein announced federal assistance for the north-west outbreak.

“The measures we have taken are tough and will impact many thousands of people and their families, but they are what is needed to control the outbreak and save lives,” he said.

“The impact on hospital staff in the North-West is significant and I thank the Federal Government for their assistance in providing additional resources to assist our health system, following a request from the State Government.

“An AUSMAT (Australian Medical Assistance team) will arrive in Tasmania this week along with members of the Australian Defence Force to ensure emergency services at the North West Regional Hospital are able to come back online once a deep clean of the area has been completed.”

He urged the community to work to control the outbreak.

“Our best weapon against coronavirus is social distancing, so please: stay home, save lives.”

Mr Gutwein also told mainstream media that Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, had been referring to a rumour when the CMO told a New Zealand parliamentary committee that the north-west outbreak had been linked to an illegal dinner party attended by health professionals.

Professor Murphy has since rescinded the claim, saying in a statement that “whilst this possibility had previously been mentioned to me following initial investigations I am now informed that the contact tracing has not confirmed that such a dinner party occurred”.

Meanwhile, the SHPA has paid tribute to the hard work of pharmacists across all settings, using World Health Day last week to praise their work via the hashtag #thankyoupharmacists.


“We’re trying to make that broader acknowledgement, because there’s a lot going on for health workers at the moment,” Ms Michaels told the AJP.

“They’re all doing such an extraordinary job. We’re having constant contact with our members and their commitment is absolutely extraordinary: that belief that they’ll be there, they’ll be there for their patients and that they’ll do that, no matter what. It’s absolutely admirable.”

She said that whether in hospitals or the community setting, “they’ve come to the fore, incredibly, and what they’re doing in this time is just marvelous”.

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