Sal Deshon UNE Life staff member smiling at camera wearing high-vis vest and mask, at covid clinics

Interview with Sal Deshon

Over six-thousand COVID-19 vaccinations (and counting) have been administered to regional Australians in the New England Region through the UNE Medical Centre with Armajun Health Service Aboriginal Corporation pop up Vaccination Clinics. These clinics have been integral in providing COVID-19 vaccinations to thousands of regional Australians, and we could not be more thankful to the many hands who have helped run these clinics, as well as proud of our team’s that have pulled together, and made these events run so seamlessly!

We’re speaking with a few of the people that pivoted and played a role in these events! UNE student and Cafe Life staff member Sal Deshon, played an integral role of COVID Marshall at a number of these clinics. Sal spoke with us about the experience.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I currently live in Armidale, but I am originally from the quaint town of Coonabarabran, about 3 and a half hours west of Armidale. I’m the eldest of four, with two younger sisters and a younger brother, all of whom play Polocrosse, which usually keeps everyone pretty busy. My mum also plays Polocrosse, and is head maths teacher at Coonabarabran High School.

This year I’ve been working at Cafe Life (the cafe up top at UNE run by UNE Life, Functions & Catering), as well as undertaking my final year of a Bachelor of Education (K-6 years), which I am due to finish in early November. Yay. I’ve had a ball during my year residing in Armidale whilst living with an amazing bunch of girls in town; of which I’ve also had the pleasure of living with for the past few years at Austin College.

What was your role during the clinics?

During the UNE Medical Centre Pop Up  COVID Clinics, I was assigned to the role of ‘COVID Marshal’, where we ushered people into the clinics, checked and collected their paperwork, handed out food and water, set up and packed up the clinics, as well as registered people’s details into the computer systems.

This role was quite different to my usual work, however, one similarity was interacting with people all day. I’m usually making coffees and serving food, and this was quite the contrary!

Which locations did you attend/help at?

I worked at a couple of clinics at the Armidale Medical Centre, Inverell, and Moree, which included an overnight stay. There have actually been a stack of clinics over the last few months and over 6000 vaccinations, the UNE Medical keep the records up to date so people can see the rolling updates!

Sal Deshon standing with another staff member both wearing bright yellow covid marshal vests and masks

Do you have any highlights from working at the clinics?

One of the highlights at the clinics was seeing the turnout of people each week. A lot of the clinics I went on were held during the lockdown, so it was particularly nice to see everyone banding together to try and do the right thing in such challenging times. Most people were incredibly grateful as well, and they were just so happy that regional citizens were being looked after.

It’s pretty cool – these drop by COVID Clinics have been integral to the New England, where many people have experience difficulties with accessing health services. The vaccination clinics were an accessible way that people were guaranteed a dose of Astra or Pfizer with no appointment necessary. The amazing nurses, medical staff, and the UNE team all did an amazing job at providing such a stress-free, calm, and well-run show, week after week. #impressive

What’s one thing you’re looking forward to once the Australian population reaches 80% double vaccination?

One thing I’m looking forward to, aside from catching up with family and friends, is being able to attend gatherings again, such as concerts and race meets. I also can’t wait to travel interstate. I think we have an amazing country in Australia, and I’d love to go see more of it. QLD and NT are top of the list at the moment!

Whats one thing you’ve learned working at these clinics?

One thing I’ve learnt is that despite a pandemic and the stresses that come with it, many people are often pretty easy going and willing to work together in such challenging times. I have learnt that country people, particularly, are really keen just to get on with the job (or the Jab!), and support each other to the hilt.

Thank you, Sal, for all your hard work assisting with these clinics – we know it’s different to the job at the Cafe that you signed up for, however, we’re super impressed with your agility and can-do attitude! Legendary. 

Visit the UNE Medical Centre website to view the upcoming dates and locations for the drop in clinics.

See the latest vaccination statistics on our website here.