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Tales of a Research Nurse completing visits during COVID-19, IV

Hayley Voorn, Australia Based Research Nurse

Covid-19 challenges us all, patients, carers, families, and the way we work as RN’s. Covid-19 does not change the fact that we continue to find a way to turn up and commit ourselves to our job, advocating for our patients as Research Nurses and in our commitment to researching new medicines - which ironically is exactly what everyone in the world also needs right now! Our job is rewarding and honourable, we should be proud.

My children will remember the past year too, their home became their classroom, their learning interrupted by mum conducting virtual visits (phone visits) with patients, who were 3000 kilometres away.  When I could not fly to visit them as originally planned but where virtual visits were adapted to support them to package and label their own samples for shipment. I purchase ice from service stations and then in their car park, I repetitively foot stamp on the large bags of ice to break it up so to fill my esky (cold box), enroute to collect urgent bloods. I am thankful when hotels have clean working microwaves to warm my hot packs up for drawing blood from patients. I have purchased ice-cream tubs to use as an ice substitute to keep samples cool, when a courier was running late (no, I did not eat the ice cream, it melted and spilled - without affecting samples)!

Most recently, driving interstate (7 hours return) to continue time critically effective treatment to a small child when state borders had blocked them from visiting Site to receive treatment. This one off, interstate visit I agreed to, quickly became a continued weekly requirement impacting on my permanent job and family life. If I had known the personal impact, I would never have changed a thing! Assisting and continuing to assist in the continuation of treatment for this little boy is heart-warming and will likely change his life forever. I remain so grateful for the “Big Drug Companies” who sponsor the drugs (IMP) and invest in rare diseases. I left wishing that the misinformed Anti-vaxxer types, were better read and aware of the facts.

I am grateful that last month just after Christmas when I first met this young child, I was able to take the time to build a calm atmosphere and rapport with him and his family, so that today when he sees me in full PPE, he will not be so scared, he knows my voice, my manner and possibly my forehead and ears. Indeed, today this brave little boy, he trusted me as I sat on his lounge room floor cross-legged, I was the PI’s hands as I palpated his organs & felt for masses over his body while the PI directed me over zoom from Site. I was also thankful that his thoughtful mother put on the air-conditioning when she saw sweat running down my brow, after emptying my large car full of equipment & filling their home with it for the Visit.

On interstate car travels I have sat stationary in border crossing traffic for hours feeling thirsty, hungry, and full bladdered, but aware, that I am from a strict lock-down location and car bound until I finally arrive home. I also felt lucky I could just reach that protein bar without taking my seat belt off.

I do love this job and the challenges; no visit is the same.