Ready to help in Auckland

Dunedin ICU nurse Dom Gauthier has his bags packed as he waits on standby to be called to assist...
Dunedin ICU nurse Dom Gauthier has his bags packed as he waits on standby to be called to assist in Auckland as the city continues its fight against the Covid-19 Delta variant. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Dunedin's Dom Gauthier is waiting for a call from the Ministry of Health.

The ICU nurse was one of 25 southern healthcare workers who put their hands up to travel to Auckland to relieve exhausted health workers there in the fight against Covid-19.

Mr Gauthier was on standby yesterday at home in St Clair.

His bags were packed, and he was prepared for a stint away from home lasting up to six weeks.

‘‘If I was nursing up there, I would want to know that there was support available if needed,’’ Mr Gauthier said.

‘‘They’re under a lot of pressure at the moment.

‘‘This is what I signed up for.

‘‘I really have a passion for looking after people who are really sick.’’

At present, in Auckland, there were patients on life support, breathing on ventilators in ICU, he said.

It would be emotionally as well as physically exhausting to care for them.

And Mr Gauthier knew what was involved first hand.

Last year, at Dunedin Hospital, he was involved in the care of a patient who was critically ill with Covid-19.

Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming called the 25 staff from the SDHB, WellSouth Primary Health Network, Gore Health and Waitaki District Health Services who volunteered to go to Auckland heroes.

And though Mr Gauthier yesterday laughed self-consciously at the suggestion, his partner Ashleigh Smith, who is also a nurse, responded for him.

‘‘I am very proud of him,’’ Miss Smith said.

‘‘It is a big call to go up to somewhere that’s not your home for, really, an unknown period of time with not a lot of information.’’

She knew there were risks and that she would not be able to travel north to see him.

But if Dunedin needed help, she would hope there were people out there coming to help.

‘‘If it was our family members in an ICU on a ventilator, you really want to know that you’ve got the people there with the skill set to look after them,’’ Miss Smith said.

‘‘That’s the calling — it’s why you sign up to be a nurse, to care for those that need it.’’

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported 43 people with Covid-19 needed hospital care in New Zealand at present.


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