Nursing director and member of the Pasifika Medical Association Membership Board, Abel Smith says the Covid-19 crisis has brought out the best in Pacific nurses and helped them develop further knowledge of how to care for their community.
“We haven’t had a pandemic in our lifetime. We’ve read about them and we’ve studied them but this is the first time we’ve had to experience a pandemic of this nature,” says the Fijian senior nurse.
“We learned what our Pacific community needed during this time and how to care for them. There were also a lot of personal lessons for nurses who had to balance work, home and family. It has shaped our practice approach as we had to make sure we took good care of ourselves so we could care for others professionally and safely. ”
Smith says that despite the transition into Alert Level 1, Pacific nurses continue to be extremely busy.
“Our nurses have been part of the care and service during all the alert levels and of course the focus was on Covid-19. Now, at level 1, we’re now focused on every other aspect of care for the Pacific community, especially during the winter season.”
He says nurses are not only dealing with the physical wellness of their patients but also the emotional stress that Covid-19 had placed on the community, including socio-economic issues like unemployment and housing.
“The socioeconomic issues are factors we’ve always had to face but because of Covid, these issues were compounded. Our nurses are resilient and empathetic and have comforted our Pacific community during this time.”
The move into Alert Level 1 has not changed the cautionary approach nurses used throughout the lockdown period says Smith.
“We are not keeping our eye on the ball when it comes to Covid. It’s still around, everything that we were expected to do during the lockdown, we are still maintaining. We still encourage our communities that the pandemic has not gone. It may have decreased in New Zealand but around the world, it’s still prevalent.”
He says the Pacific community has embraced the precautionary measures set by the health authorities which resulted in having the lowest infection rate of Covid-19 of any group in New Zealand. That momentum needs to continue, despite the move to Level 1, he advises.
“We have seen many within our Pacific community voluntarily going out to get tested for Covid-19. That must continue, as well as the advice given by our health authorities.
Smith is proud of the commitment and hard work shown by Pacific nurses during the crisis.
“They bring with them their culture and the value of caring. We have seen them step up during Covid and that high level commitment of care has continued.”
Date: Monday 29 June 2020