COVID-19 information for our workforce
COVID-19 information for our workforce
| By Alliance Rural & Remote Health

Catherine Holland, also known as Dutchy to many, is one of our rural and remote nurses based in the Torres Strait Islands. In this post, she shares her story about her life as a nurse on the island.

Working as a remote nurse is a joy and privilege, sometimes I question my skill and fit for the role. No more was this true than my first single nurse post in the Torres. The clinic was great, and the community was wonderful.

I must have had some kind of magnetism, as the trip saw the most medical retrievals in that period of time the island had seen in over 12 years – with one weekend having four retrievals within two days.

Saturday had perfect weather, I’d gone for a nice walk and was chilling out when Patient 1 came in at lunch with a lacerated knee. She had slipped while running in the kitchen and needed a surgical washout as it was full of small shards of glass. Retrieval came at 10 pm and at bedtime came call-out two – an elderly man with PR bleeding and a quick check of the notes revealed he’d had similar events previously where he had arrested and needed ICU time.

Fast forward to 3:30 am, the third call-out came and it was an unwell elderly woman. She was brought into the clinic. Both beds (the only beds) are occupied. Patient 2 was retrieved at 7 am and I thought, “great, I can finally sort Patient 3”. I was getting things sorted when the health worker raced in and said, “we’ve got another one”. I laughed, thinking she was kidding and pulling my leg – she was not!

Patient 4 had a very clearly dislocated elbow, thankfully neurovascularly intact. But was also going to need retrieval. I called the doctor to arrange it, but he too thought I was pulling his leg. The chopper dropped off Patient 2 and immediately turned around for Patient 4, who was picked up at 9 am.

Patient 3 was stable but unwell, and retrieval was planned. She had to wait until 3 pm because I wasn’t the only clinic in the Torres needing retrievals. Thankfully she was okay-ish but was retrieved with minimal issue. By the end of it all, I was questioning my life choices as what was real. But mostly proud and relieved that I’d gotten through the storm after the calm.

Dutchy: I wasn’t sure what day it was or even if I was still awake… after the last patient left.