“Not all heroes wear capes”: COVID Streetfighters help homeless

WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy and Clinical Governance director Caroline Farmer present the COVID Streetfighters with their Quality Awards trophy, including (centre) clinical nurse consultant Nina Livingstone.

During the midst of the COVID pandemic and winter months, a brave and dedicated team of nine took to the streets giving flu vaccinations and screening for COVID-19 to protect vulnerable Western Sydney communities.

This group of un-caped crusaders forged from the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Youth Health team was known as the ‘COVID Streetfighters’.

They vaccinated more than 600 people for influenza and screened more than 1500 people for COVID-19, helping to slow the spread and keep the community safe.

WSLHD Youth Health clinical nurse Nina Livingstone said the team visited the Parramatta Mission, soup kitchens and drop-in places where people experiencing homelessness were known to frequent.

They also reached out to people who were living in crisis or temporary accommodation in areas such as Auburn, Blacktown, Parramatta, Telopea, Merrylands, Doonside, Emerton, Dundas, Mount Druitt and Riverstone.

“We all swapped work clothes for ‘Superhero’ tee-shirts under our personal protective equipment and took to the streets. The shirts helped identify us within the community and also the staff felt empowered and very much like a superhero,” Nina said.

“My family and friends asked me why you would put yourself at risk of getting the flu or even worse COVID-19, and I could honestly say that I feel privileged to physically provide this service and make a difference.”

The team won the Keeping People Healthy category at the 2020 Quality Awards.

The COVID Streetfighters project ran from March to September and won the Keeping People Healthy category at the 2020 WSLHD Quality Awards. The awards recognise teams who have delivered a range of innovative health projects that have made a difference to lives of people in Western Sydney.

The project was a collaboration of services including WSLHD Public Health Unit and Multicultural Health team, Department of Communities and Justice, Cumberland Council, Parramatta Mission, Barnardos Australia, Mission Australia, Domestic Violence NSW Service Management, Marist 180, Wesley Mission, Evolve Housing and MacKillop Family Service.

For the latest COVID-19 information, including affected venues and your nearest testing clinic, please visit the NSW Health website.