Interview with Chris Foldi
Since August of 2021, UNE Medical Centre with Armajun Health Service Aboriginal Corporation has enlisted the help of many hands to help run the drop-in covid vaccination clinics. These clinics have been integral to providing COVID-19 vaccinations to the New England people in regional Australia and we could not be more thankful to everyone who has been involved.
In this series of blogs, we are highlighting some of the people who have dedicated their time assisting at the drop in clinics. Up first is Chris Foldi. Chris previously worked as a Chef with the Life, Functions & Catering team at UNE Life before more recently shifting roles to assist with the SportUNE Football League.
Chris spoke with us about his experience at the clinics and why they have been important to our community.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! My names Chris, I currently live in Armidale with my young family which consists of myself, my wife Eliza, and my two girls, Charlotte & Maddison. For the majority of my working life, I have worked in a kitchen, striving to produce fabulous meals as a Chef. Due to a serious sporting injury, I have had to set aside my aspirations and passion for cooking and channel my efforts in assisting in running the 2021 SportUNE Football League (SUFL). This was an enormous change of pace and required me to learn a whole new toolkit of skills and feed on the upbeat energy that is SportUNE. Moving forward, I hope to be able to take that energy on every path I tread.
What was your role during the COVID Clinic events?
Well, to begin with, given the set of skills I was equipped with and the lack of physical capabilities I could offer, my role was limited to “the computer guy”. This transitioned (as the clinics evolved and we took on a little more of a leading role in the region) to me being the lead admin staff member and soon after, working quite closely with the logistics crew. So, to break it down, I went from entering patients forms into the computer to being trained and upskilled to bill and record each dose and patient correctly, to confidently making decisions regarding the physical event layout of the clinics, to finally being able to help international patients set up Individual Health Identifier (IHI) numbers so we could upload their vaccination records into MyGov. I’ve learned quite a lot and its been very hands on, but enjoyable!
Is this role quite different to your usual work?
Yes, and at the same time, no. I can confidently say, there are not many computers and little communication with the public working in a kitchen. However, the benefit of working with UNE Life is that whilst working Life, Functions & Catering (and Cafe Life) there were many chances to get out the front and serve customers, giving you the face-to-face experience.
In my personal time, I do spend quite a substantial time, possibly too much time (if you’re talking to my wife), on the computer doing a variety of activities, ranging from gaming, creating playlists for events I will be DJing at, to any general IT development I can learn from YouTube. My experience with computers has helped with my work at the clinics. Whenever we have had an IT related problem, I can confidently say I have been able to diagnose the issue 95% of the time.
Which locations did you attend/help at?
I’ve assisted at almost all of the clinics – Armidale, Inverell, Moree, Tamowrth, Ashford, Delungra, Tingha, Tenterfield and Guyra, all the dates (upcoming and previous) and how many doses the team administered are on the UNE Medical website.
Tell us what you think about the importance of the drop by COVID clinics to a regional area such as the New England?
I believe the UNE Medical centre, in addition to the clinics paired with Armajun, we have administered over 6,000 doses (at the time of this publication) this is a combination of the Astra Zeneca & Pfizer vaccine to regional NSW and small communities in the Northern Tablelands. This is a huge achievement and our efforts have greatly assisted in helping these communities reach the 80% vaccination goal set by the NSW government. I personally feel as though everyone involved should be tremendously impressed with themselves and their peers during these times.
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What was a highlight for you working at the clinics?
It’s no secret that some people attending these clinics have been visibly concerned about receiving the vaccination, and so it has brought me great joy bearing witness to friends, families, and sometimes just the comfort of a friendly face they have seen walking the street who have offered emotional support whilst in the line or when getting the jab to those individuals.
There are so many other highlights to these clinics that I would also have to mention our incredible nursing staff that can sometimes be spotted dancing in front of their booths to welcome the next patient in with a smile and a mood-lifting comment.
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to once the Australian population reaches 80% double vaccination?
I, like most others, am keen to begin to see a state of normality return to daily life, whether it be getting to work and not being restricted to covering my face with a mask which can get quite overwhelming. Extremely keen to begin to experience a nightlife culture again and return to DJing at nightspots, parties, and events. But most of all, I will be looking forward to taking my two girls out to visit the parks and socialise with their friends.
What’s one thing you’ve learned working at these clinics?
One of the primary roles I have had on this journey, would be the ability to learn, lead and teach a group of peers who, like myself, have had little to no experience in this field – but the support of their team, positivity and agility. Without the team, I have had with me and under the fantastic leadership of Gay Leys (who manages the UNE Medical Centre), I would not have been able to stick it out for this long!
I am very grateful to UNE Life and the UNE Medical Centre for the opportunity to assist in the ways I have on these clinics and look forward to furthering involvement in these fields.
Thank you Chris for all your hard work travelling around the New England Region assisting with these clinics. Your help has certainly not gone unnoticed! Chris is now one of the leading team helping role out the Rapid Antigen Testing at UNE.
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.