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First Australian hospital nurse dies from COVID-19

An Australian nurse described as “a real angel” has died from COVID-19.

Gillian “Jill” Dempsey died at Box Hill Hospital’s intensive care unit on Sunday afternoon.

She is believed to be the first hospital based nurse to die from the virus in Australia, nearly two years into the pandemic.

The ANMF's victorian branch said in a statement that the tragedy is a reminder of how vulnerable nurses still are to the virus.

"We have been very fortunate despite a large number of nurses testing positive. This is something we feared and a sobering reminder that nurses, midwives and all healthcare workers are on the pandemic frontline.

"We acknowledge their bravery and courage."

Dempsey was an ED nurse at Angliss Hospital in Melbourne’s east since 2007. It is believed that she caught the virus at work.

Premier Dan Andrews confirmed that Dempsey was double-vaccinated and wearing PPE, "doing all the things right", and he thanked her for her years of service.

"We thank her and her family for many years of dedicated care, we honour the contributions made to our state."

Eastern health described her as an "incredibly hardworking and beloved" nurse.

"Her loss will reverberate around the tight-knit team at the Angliss Hospital and our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues at this time.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the union will wait for any findings from a workplace investigation before making further comments on Dempsey's death.

"We recognise this is fearful news for our members. We also acknowledge infection control measures are in place and much work has been done to protect nurses, midwives and all healthcare workers," she said.

"We will not speculate and we encourage the media to do the same. If there are learnings from the WorkSafe Victoria investigation, we will not rest until recommendations are implemented."

Fitzpatrick encourages people to donate to a Go Fund Me page to help support Dempsey's family.

“Such a tragic loss. My thoughts are with Jill’s family,” wrote one colleague on the page.

“Always a wonderful person to work with in the ED. Thank you for everything you’ve done for the community and for your patients over the years.”

“A true hero, angel and tragic loss,” another posted.

“I am heartbroken to hear of Jill’s passing, she was such a kind, compassionate and all around beautiful person.”

Fundraising organiser Sandy Taylor described the emergency nurse as an “unsung hero” and “much loved” team member.

“This pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, but none more so than our beloved Jilly and her family,” she wrote.

Dempsey is survived by her husband Michael and their three children.

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One comment

  1. It’s marvellous how well these vaccines work. A big thank you to all those people who are forcing them on everyone, especially health care professionals. It’s a true success story, and a testiment to how much nurses and care givers are valued by society. Not as much as Pharma, though.

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