Sep 06, 2021

Melbourne nurse comes out of retirement to help regional Victorian town with COVID vaccinations

Melbourne nurse comes out of retirement to help regional Victorian town with COVID vaccinations

Still a registered nurse, Ms Warner knew she could not just stand by and watch.

So she came out of retirement and started helping with COVID-19 testing in the city.

When she saw Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton, just down the road from her childhood stomping ground of Kyabram, was in desperate need of staff for COVID testing and vaccination, she jumped at the opportunity.

It’s not only been a chance for Ms Warner to take a trip down memory lane, but it is also a chance to service a regional community caught in crisis.

Jennifer Warner
Jennifer Warner has worked as a nurse for more than 50 years, including as a theatre nurse.(Supplied: Jennifer Warner)

“It’s been great to come up to an area of need, albeit familiar, and know I can provide something that’s really useful,” she said.

Jennifer Warner
Jennifer Warner hopes to help boost the nursing workforce as hospitals struggle under the weight of COVID-19.(Supplied: Jennifer Warner)

Helping a regional centre in crisis

The need for healthcare staff in the Goulburn Valley has soared in the past two weeks.

On Friday, August 20, the region recorded its first COVID-19 case in almost a year.

That has exploded into an outbreak that has seen thousands isolate and turn out for testing.

It has also sparked an increases in vaccination numbers.

More than 47,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been provided to date in Greater Shepparton, with 45 per cent of people receiving one dose and 26 per cent completing both.

Where the local vaccine hub was initially quiet, it was now “pumping”, according to Ms Warner.

“It’s a really well set-up process,” she said.

Travelling up to Shepparton for shifts, Ms Warner knows she is entering a COVID hotspot.

But with a background in theatre nursing, she was already very familiar with infection control practices.

“The simple fact is, if you follow the rules and use everything correctly, you’re safe,” she said.

A trip down memory lane – and a chance to make a difference

Ms Warner only lived in the Goulburn Valley until she was eight, but memories of those childhood years have come flooding back in recent weeks.

She’s already slipping back into local vernacular.


As long as the pandemic rages on, Ms Warner planned to keep helping wherever she was needed.

“When the crisis hit, I thought, ‘I could use my skills I’ve learnt over the years to help out’,” she said.

“The pandemic has depleted nursing staff.

“But if people like me can come back to work, it will free up some of the acute nurses and other staff to do their jobs.”


This article was originally published by ABC Goulburn Murray.

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