Lynch trades the pads for the scrubs
by JOSH HUNTLEY
10th August 2020
Warrandyte local Rachael Lynch will have to wait until July next year to chase her second appearance at the Olympics due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As a registered nurse in 2020, however, the Hockeyroos goalkeeper has not had much time to dwell on the situation.
In fact, it came as a relief to the WA-based nurse that the Tokyo event had been postponed.
“To be honest it was a relief for me,” said Rachel.
“When all this started, I could see what was going on around the world.
“From my health background, I was conscious of the fact we needed to make a change, the way we are living in the community, and we were pretty late to start locking things down.”
Rachel also spoke of her relief, given the situation, when the Olympics were finally and officially postponed.
“When the Olympics were officially postponed, it meant we could stop training.
“I felt so guilty at training
“I was reasonably comfortable when it was postponed that I could step in and pick up the role as a nurse.
“At least with the postponement it only means another year — obviously, I would have hated it, if it had been cancelled.”
Australia’s professional hockey players were disbanded back in March and, with the women’s side based in Perth, many considered returning to their home states as border controls came into effect and the virus began to spread.
Now a full-time nurse, Rachel’s first and foremost thought was to help combat the growing risk.
“We all had the option to stay here [in Perth] or head back home.
“Obviously, no-one knew at the time it was going to go on this long.
“Given my work in the hospital I decided to stay.
“I tried to pick up extra shifts at the hospital, but I think the way everything worked obviously they shut a lot of wards down and there were plenty of nurses looking for jobs.”
With hospitals expected to be inundated, Rachel was not the only one rushing to assist.
“I tried to get a gig at the COVID clinic at two hospitals, but they filled up pretty quickly.
“I did that for a few weeks.
“They just got inundated with people wanting to help.
“My ward was pretty quiet, working in a rehab ward — it was quite surprising, everyone thought the hospitals would just be chaos but they were very much under control, prepared for what was to come.”
With mining currently one of the crutches of the nation, and WA, amongst the economical battering sustained by the extended lockdowns, it’s crucial that workers headed out to site aren’t compromised by COVID.
It is in this sector that Rachael is currently lending her expertise, managing testing sites across the state for a mining company.
“They’ve basically implanted a program where their workers and subcontractors do a COVID screen, so a proper swab test on every single person before they leave for site.
“They have to come through one of our facilities.
“We have seven facilities across WA with nurses doing swabs.
“Once they get cleared to go, they can go up to the site.
“It’s just our way of ensuring the mining industry is safe over here — despite everything that was going on, the country can’t operate without mining,” she said.
Tests conducted during a week can number up to 30,000 and the spread of sites across a sizeable area such as WA presents a challenging prospect.
“It’s one of those things they knew if one person got up to a mine site and spread it, the mines would shut down.
“They’ve invested a lot of time and money into this program.
“It’s a fair bit of travel around WA just overseeing from a medical point of view, making sure the processes are right.
“I think people are realising, as annoying as it is to have it done regularly, it means they’re safe, they’re going to a safe site, everyone around them is safe and they’re keeping their families and livelihoods safe.
“It’s a nice program to be a part of because we can ensure WA can continue as it has been, because they’ve done a good job here to keep it away.”
While the COVID swab test is notoriously invasive, Rachael has encouraged the “better safe than sorry” approach and says that a bit of medical perspective is helpful for those reluctant to take it.
“No-one necessarily enjoys it — I’ve had about six done on me just since I’ve started working here.
“It shouldn’t be painful, but it is uncomfortable — we’ve had plenty of tears from fully grown men.
But the procedure is fairly quick, around 20 seconds, and Rachael says, in her experience, there are worse things.
“I’ve been a nurse for a long time and there are way worse procedures done to people, so I don’t think anyone should be complaining really.”
WA’s health landscape is a marked comparison from Victoria’s current predicament and beyond the physical threat that the respiratory virus can pose, Rachael remarks that the emotional and mental strain is starting to become a toll on those currently under lockdown.
“The one thing I have noticed is the mental and emotional fatigue floating around.
“I think that’s true of everyone at the moment, certainly in the medical space.
“No one knows when this is going to end.
“We’re used to being able to give answers to things and I guess this is the same as a lot of illnesses, you just don’t know what the outcome is going to be.
“It’s just about being able to control your own frustrations and the pressures you feel so that you’re not projecting that on others.
“They said there would be a mental health toll and we probably got through it ok initially.
“With this second wave however, I’ve noticed it in my friends, friends with kids, certainly my own family, how much harder it was to hear the news that we were going to go back a bit.”
With borders around the country still closed, Rachael is currently unable to see her family in Melbourne.
“My dad’s in Melbourne, my brother is in Sydney and my Nan’s actually been in hospital for the past week which has been really hard.
“Obviously I can’t get there.
“Mum’s had to step up and take on a pretty solid carer role and my Nan is 89 so in a high-risk category.
“People want to provide her with support but you’re also putting her at risk.
“I’ve really struggled with that from a distance, I’m trying to help but I can’t and it’s scary to think that it’s only one person to walk into my Nan’s room and that could be it for her.
“Everyone has their own situation they’re trying to manage and everyone’s torn.”
In the current environment, Rachael Lynch is a nurse first and athlete second and her message is clear to everyone in the fight against Coronavirus.
Do the things that need to be done.
A message that remains unchanged.
“There’s still plenty you can do.
“That involves washing your hands, staying at home and all those things we’ve been saying since the very beginning.
“People are just exhausted, it’s just providing that emotional support at the moment, wherever it’s required.
“We are all in this together and if we don’t all do the right thing, you can see what can happen.”