International student representative and Queensland alumni Ralph Teodoro has described the measures he must take while working as a Rapid Response Nurse in Victoria’s defense against COVID-19.
“When you see footage of soldiers getting prepared before combat, that’s what it feels like going out amongst the Rapid Response teams in Melbourne,” said the former Advisory Board Member to the Queensland Government on International Education and Training
“I have a bin at my front door that, when I return home, I put all my PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) straight in.
“I have a rack for my shoes which I thoroughly spray with Glen 20 once I take them off.
“And I have to wash my clothes and scrubs on a 60C cycle to kill any germs that may have accumulated.
“It’s quite a process to get ready and safely work as an agency nurse, but that’s the measures you need to take when dealing with COVID-19.”
Ralph, who completed a Bachelor of Nursing at the Queensland University of Technology in 2018, has seen first-hand the significant challenge COVID-19 has placed on the community, especially those who are most vulnerable to the disease.
“I’ve been working in settings with patients who have a lot of underlying health conditions, whether that be respiratory illnesses or the elderly, and these people are particularly prone to COVID-19.
“When you’re working in residential aged care, communication with family members is key.
“When someone contracts COVID, their condition can dramatically change in a matter of days or hours. You need to keep family members abreast of the situation, especially when we’re in lockdown.
“But COVID-19 isn’t restricted to the elderly. I've seen to many people (aged) in their 40s and 50s over the last month.
“The whole experience has been surreal.”
Qualified health workers have been in high demand in Victoria over recent months as authorities deal with infection spread.
As an agency employed RN, Ralph is excluded from many of Melbourne’s Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions in his work capacity. The former UAE resident commonly travels 20-40kms for work whereas most residents are restricted to a 5km radius from their residence.
Like other frontline health workers in Australia, Ralph is exposed to COVID-19 every time he heads to work on the streets of Melbourne – a scene, under Stage 4, that he describes as ‘quite eerie for a city with such a vibrant energy’.
“I'm proud to be contributing to the effort. Don’t get me wrong - there are some days when it’s very distressing; this is a situation that we haven’t encountered before.
“But this is why, as health professionals, we’re drawn to the industry – to help people when we can.”