While many Kiwis have been living and working from home during lockdown, Whangārei Hospital's medical ward staff did their best to stick to business as usual while facing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among the Ward 14 team under clinical nurse manager Joanne Leslie there was quite a bit of angst as they prepared for the unknown.
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The ward was eerily quiet for the first two weeks of the pandemic, as people stayed away fearing they would catch the coronavirus or overwhelm the hospital with their illnesses.
Leslie said it felt like the tide had gone out, and they were waiting for a tsunami to hit.
It did, and they have since been at capacity with almost 80 per cent of the patients being elderly.
According to registered nurse Jo Yuretich, the biggest issue they face now with their patients is their sense of isolation because during alert level 4 and 3 visiting is restricted.
"We have some really sad, frightened patients who we are spending a lot of time reassuring and settling their fear. You feel this sense of, 'please get it right', so people can have their visitors again," Yuretich said.
Patients are also staying in the ward longer than usual because families are reluctant to take them home if their regular support networks aren't available.
Registered nurse Kristie-Eve Henwood said because the older members of the community knew they were vulnerable, many cancelled carer support and stopped picking up essential medication, fearing leaving their home and catching the virus.
Both nurses feel they must stay well because if they get sick, they not only take it home to their bubble, but their whole ward would have to close.
That pressure is something managing nurse Leslie works hard to support her team with.
At the start, she said she knew she wasn't going to be able to control everything – but her goal was to make sure her team were looked after.
"We take it day by day and are like a big family where everyone's supportive of each other and as a whole, the entire team have all got on with their jobs, which I'm proud of.
"But, it's been trying on some of them who have young families or have to tag-team with their partners who are also essential workers. We try to accommodate this with moving shifts and times, so we don't exhaust them, and they can still have family time."
When staff from Ward 12 joined Ward 14, Leslie said their work-family grew, but a group of their nurses were redeployed for the duration of the pandemic.
"Some of our team also have family overseas, and I know they are worried and that adds a layer of stress to their lives. But we also have some lovely things to look forward to celebrating after lockdown. Between Ward 12 and Ward 14 we've had four babies arrive over the past few weeks."