Fresh off maternity leave with an eight-month-old baby at home, Corporal Mandy Hage made her way to the COVID-19 frontlines in Tasmania this week, where she’ll assist with overwhelmed medical staff amid a recent hospital outbreak.
As a dental assistant based at Brisbane’s 2nd General Health Battalion, Corporal Hage has essential medical and hygiene management skills that are vital in the largely undermanned North West Regional Hospital in Burnie, whose staff fell victim to the virus this week and could no longer care for civilians.
Like many others in the country, Corporal Hage has been personally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and is proud to be helping with the recovery efforts in something that hits close to home.
"My sister and her partner have both lost their jobs due to COVID-19, it’s affected my whole family, I have a new baby and none of my family have been able to travel to see him," Corporal Hage said.
"Everyone is suffering and I want to help Australia as much as I can, in any way that I can."
Coming straight off maternity leave, Corporal Hage was anticipating hitting the ground running with a few weeks of demanding medical and general hospital duties in Burnie, away from home and her family.
"I’m expecting to work really hard and bond closely with the people I’m working with," she said.
Despite the dire circumstances, there was an element of excitement for Corporal Hage who was happy to get right back into the action and be working alongside other services, transiting to Tasmania via a C-130J Hercules aircraft from RAAF Base Amberley.
"It is really exciting, I’ve never even seen a C-130 and it’s just cool coming out to the RAAF base, I’ve never been here before," she said.
With Corporal Hage reaching the frontlines on Tuesday evening, two more planeloads of Australian Defence Force members with various medical and scientific skillsets from the Army, Navy and Air Force will help with the COVID-19 outbreak at the hospital.