Two Army reserve specialist nurses are using their military skills at Royal Adelaide Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lieutenant Michelle Farror and Lieutenant Toni Lapworth undertook the two-phase Australian Defence Force Extended Practise Nursing (EPN) Course, which prepared them for their deployment on Operation Bushfire Assist.

The combination of training and operational experience is now being put to the test as intensive care clinical nurses on Operation COVID-19 Assist. 

Lieutenant Toni Lapworth joined the Army Reserve in 2017 and is posted to the 9th Combat Service Support Battalion as team leader of the treatment team within the health company.

She said the EPN training helped prepare her and Lieutenant Farror for working in more austere environments.

“Phase one of the course set us up well for Bushfire Assist as it focused on primary health care,” Lieutenant Lapworth said.

“Phase Two focused on emergency department and intensive care, which we now use in our civilian workplace and has prepared us for future deployments with the Army.”

Central Adelaide Local Health Network Chief Executive Officer Lesley Dwyer said the organisation was highly supportive of reservists. 

“If members of staff choose to be part-time members of the ADF, we need to support them as it not only benefits individuals, but the skills they bring benefit our organisation as well,” Ms Dwyer said.

“Our reservists are highly motivated professionals who bring an additional level of enthusiasm and commitment to the job."

During the COVID-19 response, the hospital had developed a unique partnership with the ADF. 

“They have provided an enhanced level of planning support to our organisation,” Ms Dwyer said.

“This relationship has been further enhanced by the knowledge that we have highly capable reservists within our workforce who have been using their military skills to help us directly in our successful fight against COVID-19.

“This is especially evident in the intensive care unit, where we have a significant number of doctors and nurses who serve in the ADF as specialist reserve officers.”