Rotational Midwife, Melanie Redding has temporarily left her job in the maternity unit behind to help out in the COVID Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Escalation Team after volunteering to be redeployed. She shares her experience below.
My name is Melanie Redding, although to my colleagues I’m known as Mel-Bell. I joined the Trust in 2006 when I commenced my post as a Registered Nurse in Theatres and the Emergency Department. However, for the last 9 years I have worked as a Rotational Midwife in the Maternity Unit.
On Sunday 5 April I was working my normal shift as a Midwife and on Monday 6 April I commenced my secondment to the Covid-19 ICU Escalation Team. How did this happen I hear you all say, surely they still need midwives during this pandemic? Did you offer or were you made to go? Do you feel safe doing this? What about your family? All these questions were asked to me by colleagues and now by my new colleagues. The truth is, I saw on the UHP Twitter page that they were asking for staff with previous Theatre experience and I couldn’t morally sit there knowing that I possessed these skills and say nothing, so I put my name forward. My Mother in Law also works for the Trust as a registered nurse and was due to retire in March. She has deferred this until July as she felt she could not leave the NHS at the time of a world pandemic which also helped my decision. I was fully supported by my Matrons, Charlotte Wilton and Sheralyn Neasham to be put forward for a secondment for as long as I was needed.
So on Monday morning I went to Pencarrow and Penrose where I was met by the Clinical Education Team to begin my ICU clinical training with other members of staff who were redeploying. Pete Barnfield, Elaine Johnstone, Tracey Watts and Michelle Gould ensured we had a packed day of training. This included donning and doffing of PPE, suctioning intubated and tracheostomy patients, how to prone patients, Arterial lines and CVP lines, how to use pumps that were specific to ICU and the A-E handover (airway, breathing, circulation, disability and exposure checks before shift handovers). Safe to say by the end of the day my head was fully overloaded and all I could think was ‘what have I got myself in for?’ I was lucky enough that last year I had completed my masters module in maternal critical care so had a lot of the theory behind what we were going to be doing, it was just the practical aspect that I had to learn. Bring on the night shifts…
Wednesday night I presented to Pencarrow with the ICU team, my anxiety was high. I was worried that staff would be thinking ‘wow, now I’ve been stuck with a midwife’, however, these fears were all relieved as I was greeted by the team with big smiles and lots of thanks for coming across to help out.
On my first night I was straight into the red zone, extremely well supported and hands on from the beginning. I would like to thank Kim Greenaway and Sarah Holmes from Penrose who have taught me so much but also made me feel part of the team. Their words were: ‘’It’s like you’re ex-ICU and fit straight back in.”
I am now competent in taking arterial blood gases and slowly learning the values and able to give drugs down CVP and PIC lines. I have cared for ventilated patients, patients with tracheostomies and patients who are proned all under the supervision of experienced ICU nurses. I have learnt that no question is a stupid question and the whole team are there to support you. I do have a giggle to myself as the only practical help I needed was catheter care for male patients as you can imagine we don’t get that in midwifery.
This week I was sent to Torrington to work in general ICU where I worked with the lovely ‘H’ and supported by sister Alli. Again, I have learnt so much and was able to get stuck straight in as I’d already learnt to use the Innovian monitors so was beginning to do clinical skills without being prompted.
I’m happy to report that in a time of world pandemic I am able to help as needed, I miss my midwifery colleagues but have been well supported and will return to my position as a midwife when this settles down.