Ingrid’s extraordinary tale of life on the COVID frontline

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AFTER being raised in Stawell and schooled in Ararat, Ingrid Carey has continued on a remarkable journey, leading her to take up a critical role in one of Victoria’s largest hospitals. In 2020 Ms Carey embarked on her first year of practicing as an independent pharmacist, before the COVID pandemic swept across the country, turning her into one of the key cogs in the healthcare system in Victoria. Ms Carey is an ICU pharmacist and since the pandemic started, she has been part of the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne ICU team, COVID positive ward and has helped establish some of their vaccination clinics. Ms Carey said her time with the COVID positive ward during the height of Victoria’s second wave in 2020 was one of the most challenging times of her young career. “It was pretty awful to be honest,” she said. “You were always so paranoid you were carrying it (COVID) around and you might take it home or take it to the supermarket. READ MORE: “It was really stressful and daunting and we didn’t have a vaccine back then so we were working towards a solution but it didn’t really feel like we had an answer. “It was really sad seeing a lot of people get really, really unwell. “A lot of people my dad’s age got really critically unwell and had a prolonged stay in hospital and a long recovery out of hospital so it took its toll.” In her role, Ms Carey is responsible for working with the medical team to make sure all the medications they give to the ICU patients give the patients the best chance of the best outcome. With the COVID Delta strain continuing to spread around Victoria, Ms Carey said St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne were putting plans in place to prepare for the next “wave of the unvaccinated”. “At the moment we have plans in place to rapidly expand our ICU into other parts of the hospital at very short notice,” she said. “And the next wave will be the wave of the unvaccinated, which is a little bit scary and quiet daunting to think that we have an answer and for some reason or another people have decided not to get vaccinated. “We are preparing to have some very, very unwell patients in our ICU. Hopefully I don’t have to use them, but the medications are ready to go.” Ms Carey said the past 18 months have been a strain on the her and her peers and she said some of their treatment by the public has been “demoralising”. OTHER NEWS: “I think a lot of people are really burnout and frustrated with the general public especially with our hospital, St Vincent’s, it is next to Carlton Gardens and we had massive riots recently,” she said. “I have been spat at for wearing scrubs outside of work, which is pretty awful. “The other day we had a COVID positive patient arrive at the hospital who had been at the riots and been really awful towards hospital staff and then came to our emergency department asking for help. “There has been some nice gestures though, with people dropping off food and we even had some left over flowers from the Australian Open earlier this year. “We know most of the community appreciate what we do, but there’s just a small section that don’t.” Do you have something to say on this issue? Send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected] Despite the incredible workload, Ms Carey said the hospital has expanded its services to provide a vaccination clinic to help in the fight against COVID. “Last year I was in a COVID positive ward and so I was with COVID positive patients and in the full kit with the mask, face shield and with the medication on the ward to make sure all the patients could have a meaningful recovery as soon as possible,” she said. “In the last 18 months I have also helped set up one of our mass vaccination clinics at the Royal Exhibition building. “I’m working in ICU during the week and on the weekend I work at the vaccination clinic and at the moment we are trying to do 2000 vaccines a day. “We have so many staff members that are completely burnout, but we do have a lot of mental health support at work and always have people reaching out to us.” Ms Carey’s journey to the COVID frontline began in western Victoria as she grew up in Stawell and completed her education at Marian College in Ararat. MORE NEWS: She graduated from year 12 at the end of 2012, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, fell short of the ATAR needed to chase her pharmacy dream. But she continued on, moving to Latrobe University in Bendigo where she completed two years of an undergraduate science degree before getting the marks required to transfer into pharmacy. During her journey Ms Carey said former Stawell pharmacy owner Brian Hancock and her family have provided her with a great amount of support. In 2018 she graduated from university and in 2019 Ms Carey worked in her intern year before moving into her first role as an independent practicing pharmacist with the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne – a role that has been much more than she bargained for. “It has been a very steep learning curve, but it has been a great experience,” she said. “I hope we never have another pandemic again, but it really makes you think about your time management and reflect on what is important and how you can do the best for your patients and the best for your team.” If you can see this message, you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Stawell Times-News, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and for allowing us to continue telling Stawell’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great town.

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AFTER being raised in Stawell and schooled in Ararat, Ingrid Carey has continued on a remarkable journey, leading her to take up a critical role in one of Victoria’s largest hospitals.

In 2020 Ms Carey embarked on her first year of practicing as an independent pharmacist, before the COVID pandemic swept across the country, turning her into one of the key cogs in the healthcare system in Victoria.

Ms Carey is an ICU pharmacist and since the pandemic started, she has been part of the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne ICU team, COVID positive ward and has helped establish some of their vaccination clinics.

Ms Carey said her time with the COVID positive ward during the height of Victoria’s second wave in 2020 was one of the most challenging times of her young career.

“It was pretty awful to be honest,” she said.

“You were always so paranoid you were carrying it (COVID) around and you might take it home or take it to the supermarket.

“It was really stressful and daunting and we didn’t have a vaccine back then so we were working towards a solution but it didn’t really feel like we had an answer.

“It was really sad seeing a lot of people get really, really unwell.

“A lot of people my dad’s age got really critically unwell and had a prolonged stay in hospital and a long recovery out of hospital so it took its toll.”

In her role, Ms Carey is responsible for working with the medical team to make sure all the medications they give to the ICU patients give the patients the best chance of the best outcome.

With the COVID Delta strain continuing to spread around Victoria, Ms Carey said St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne were putting plans in place to prepare for the next “wave of the unvaccinated”.

“At the moment we have plans in place to rapidly expand our ICU into other parts of the hospital at very short notice,” she said.

“And the next wave will be the wave of the unvaccinated, which is a little bit scary and quiet daunting to think that we have an answer and for some reason or another people have decided not to get vaccinated.

“We are preparing to have some very, very unwell patients in our ICU. Hopefully I don’t have to use them, but the medications are ready to go.”

Ms Carey said the past 18 months have been a strain on the her and her peers and she said some of their treatment by the public has been “demoralising”.

“I think a lot of people are really burnout and frustrated with the general public especially with our hospital, St Vincent’s, it is next to Carlton Gardens and we had massive riots recently,” she said.

“I have been spat at for wearing scrubs outside of work, which is pretty awful.

“The other day we had a COVID positive patient arrive at the hospital who had been at the riots and been really awful towards hospital staff and then came to our emergency department asking for help.

“There has been some nice gestures though, with people dropping off food and we even had some left over flowers from the Australian Open earlier this year.

“We know most of the community appreciate what we do, but there’s just a small section that don’t.”

Despite the incredible workload, Ms Carey said the hospital has expanded its services to provide a vaccination clinic to help in the fight against COVID.

“Last year I was in a COVID positive ward and so I was with COVID positive patients and in the full kit with the mask, face shield and with the medication on the ward to make sure all the patients could have a meaningful recovery as soon as possible,” she said.

“In the last 18 months I have also helped set up one of our mass vaccination clinics at the Royal Exhibition building.

“I’m working in ICU during the week and on the weekend I work at the vaccination clinic and at the moment we are trying to do 2000 vaccines a day.

“We have so many staff members that are completely burnout, but we do have a lot of mental health support at work and always have people reaching out to us.”

Ms Carey’s journey to the COVID frontline began in western Victoria as she grew up in Stawell and completed her education at Marian College in Ararat.

She graduated from year 12 at the end of 2012, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, fell short of the ATAR needed to chase her pharmacy dream.

But she continued on, moving to Latrobe University in Bendigo where she completed two years of an undergraduate science degree before getting the marks required to transfer into pharmacy.

During her journey Ms Carey said former Stawell pharmacy owner Brian Hancock and her family have provided her with a great amount of support.

In 2018 she graduated from university and in 2019 Ms Carey worked in her intern year before moving into her first role as an independent practicing pharmacist with the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne – a role that has been much more than she bargained for.

“It has been a very steep learning curve, but it has been a great experience,” she said.

“I hope we never have another pandemic again, but it really makes you think about your time management and reflect on what is important and how you can do the best for your patients and the best for your team.”

If you can see this message, you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Stawell Times-News, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and for allowing us to continue telling Stawell’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great town.

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