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CQU’s Public Health training puts Vicki in good stead for COVID-19 doorknocking role

Published:20 August 2020

CQUni Public Health (Environmental Health) student Vicki Keevers has been assiting with doorknocking of COVID-19 patients in self-isolation.

CQUniversity Public Health student Vicki Keevers is proud to be on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 as part of a team checking on the welfare of patients in isolation and quarantine in south-east Queensland.

Over the past few months Vicki, 30, has put her CQU Public Health training to the test by assisting local government and health authorities with doorknocking at the homes of COVID-19 patients in self-isolation.

“I am studying a Bachelor of Public Health majoring in Environmental Health. I work full-time and study part-time and am in my fourth year with two years to go,” she said.

“I work for local government and my position is within the Public Health/Environmental Health Team. When I was asked to assist in the pandemic I immediately said yes as I wanted to assist my community in whichever way I could.”

She said so far, she has only participated in the doorknocking in April and May and visited approximately 40 homes in her designated area.

“We have been quite fortunate not to have any cases right now. I am still deployed to assist with COVID-19 however I am not currently doing any visits.”

She said the doorknocking was naturally quite an involved process.

“Undertaking the doorknocking/isolation and quarantine visits was quite interesting,” she said.

“There are many things to consider to ensure the safety and protection for everyone involved. Firstly, we developed how we would approach the residence. Officers would attend in pairs and one had the role of writing down notes while the other opened gates. This was important as we didn’t want to risk cross contamination when it came to touching surfaces as well as paperwork we would then bring back to the office.

“When we approach a residence, we would make contact via phone to advise the person that we were out the front of their property. We would then ask them to come to the front door for a chat which would in most cases mean we did not have to open a gate or knock on a door; touch a surface they may have touched. Personal protective equipment such as gloves, sanitiser, masks etc. were available to use and would be used if we needed to open a gate, ring a doorbell, knock on a door or were unable to maintain a safe distance.”

Vicki said she and all the other team members had to undertake a significant amount of training to ensure safety of everyone involved.

“It was not just about checking to see if the person was home, it was also seeing if they were okay for food or medication and just being present and being a face for them to talk to and ask questions if they had any concerns,” she said.

“If a person was in isolation and had others living at the residence, questions were asked in relation to how they are maintaining their isolation, so confirming they had their own separate bathroom facilities to use and what measures were in place within the house for food. There are many aspects to consider.”

She said she felt good about being able to offer her assistance to those members of the public who were in isolation.

“If I was not currently studying, I would not have had the opportunity to be in my current Public Health role or assist in the COVID pandemic,” she said.

“In semester one this year I was learning about communicable diseases and to be able to apply that knowledge almost instantly was really quite surreal.

“For sure this experience has affected me personally as well as professionally. It is really comforting to know that having experienced this I do have the skills and knowledge to be able to work in the field of Public Health.”

She said her goal was to become an Environmental Health Officer when she completed her degree.

“I am definitely on the right path. Simply put, Public Health is protecting the health of the public which comes in many forms,” she said.

“At the moment I feel that many people do not really know what studying a degree in Public Health (Environmental Health) entails and I feel really fortunate to have stumbled across it. There is so much variety in the work, yet the focus always comes back to health. I have always been drawn to health and I really feel like I can make a difference in some way, by making a safer environment for others.

“I am really thankful to CQU for making this degree available online so that I could study while working. If I hadn’t started study, I wouldn’t be where I am or having the experiences I am having now.”