Nurse Who Stole Medical Equipment During COVID-19 Disqualified

The nuse told her students that she would be travelling to places with high risk of COVID-19 and that she was concerned about her health. 
Nurse Who Stole Medical Equipment During COVID-19 Disqualified
A nurse wears personal protective equipment (PPE) as she performs range of motion exercises on a COVID-19 patient. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

An Australian nurse who stole in-demand medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic has been disqualified for 12 months.

Selvarani Burwood, 65, was employed as a clinical nurse facilitator for a tertiary institution on a casual basis in March 2020.

She reportedly told her students to help her steal personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, wipes, swabs, and anti-septic hand wash, from Osborn Park Hospital in Perth.

The incident took place between March 4 and March 6, 2020, when Australia was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Burwood pressured her students to take masks from the wards for her. She also stole PPE from a storage room and put them in her students’ uniform pockets.

She told the students that she would be travelling to places with high risk of COVID-19 and that she was concerned about her health.

The West Australian (WA) nurse asked the students to block the view of other staff members so that she could take the products from an equipment trolley and place them in her handbag.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia became aware of Ms. Burwood’s actions after she was arrested and charged with one count of stealing.

A WA Magistrates Court found Ms. Burwood guilty of stealing 15 face masks, disposable gloves, and 10 alcohol wipes.

The board referred her to the State Administrative Tribunal which found that Ms. Burwood engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that she have her registration cancelled. She was also disqualified from applying for registration for 12 months.

At court, Ms. Burwood asked for her stringent bail conditions to be varied as she wanted to travel overseas.

PPE Shortage During The Pandemic

The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a global shortage of medical supplies such as hospital gowns, gloves and surgical masks. This has led to the increasing prices of medical products and the proliferation of suspect dealers.

A 2020 survey by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians revealed 20 percent of respondents in public hospitals were forced to source their own PPE.

It also found respondents had limited (19 percent) or no (3 percent) access to surgical masks, while 45 percent said they had limited or no access to higher-grade N95/P2 masks.

Eleven percent said they had no access to N95/P2 masks.

About 60 percent of respondents reported recent workplace training in the use of PPE.

AAP contributed to this report.
Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at [email protected].
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