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Filipino aged care worker battling COVID-19 in a Melbourne hospital, says ‘I can’t breathe’

Robert Smith has asked for prayers as his fiancé Maria Bradford battles COVID-19 at Sunshine Hospital.

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Jason Cordi
Jason Cordi
Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Times

A 48-year-old Filipino who works as a Personal Care Attendant at the coronavirus plagued Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer has been admitted to hospital.

Maria Bradford was rushed to Sunshine Hospital by ambulance last Wednesday night 5 August after experiencing sudden breathing difficulties with a severe fever. While at the hospital, she has tested positive for COVID-19 and her breathing has gotten worse.

In an interview with The Philippine Times, Maria’s fiancé Robert Smith shares what Maria went through:

“Maria works in aged care, caring for the elderly. On Wednesday she had a severe asthma episode. Her medication wasn’t working at all. I called for an ambulance, and she was struggling to breathe and was burning up. Prior to this there were no real symptoms,” Robert said.

Maria messaged The Philippine Times, stating that she has difficulties breathing. “Every time I talk, I struggle to breathe, I’ve got really short breath, I can’t talk,” she said.

Robert also shares that Maria is always exhausted. “She develops a fever and can’t cool down. She feels hot all the time. She is very tired constantly and her whole body aches.”

“A nurse saw how much she was struggling and called for doctors, they immediately put her on oxygen which is helping her to breathe.”

“Fortunately so far the oxygen seems to be helping more and more, she is on it 24/7.”

“She had regular Covid tests that her work provides and all came back negative in the weeks prior. It just hit really quickly.”

“It’s breaking our hearts seeing her like this. We can only see her through Facetime.”

Robert is able to Facetime with Maria each night.

Since Wednesday, Maria’s daughter and Robert have both tested for coronavirus and were negative.

Active aged care outbreak with high case numbers

There are 146 coronavirus cases linked to Estia Ardeer, as reported on the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s media report on 9 August. This includes elderly residents and staff. The Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer has the third highest number of active cases in aged care in Victoria.

According to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, as of 9 August, 994 healthcare workers were active cases with coronavirus across Victoria.

A total of 1725 healthcare workers in the state have now contracted the virus since the pandemic began.

A true healthcare hero, working on the frontline

Maria knew the risk involved in her work, as the coronavirus began to spread in her workplace, but she still wanted to help the elderly during the pandemic.

Staff were wearing full PPE and they were strict with health and safety practices. Robert states that they would take precautions at home – “after work she would go straight to the shower, I’d take her clothes and put in the wash immediately and also sprayed her shoes with disinfectant.”

Robert and Maria

“She loves her job and all the residents.”

“She was temperature tested every day at work and never showed a high temperature,” says Robert. The day before going to hospital, she had worked, and “seemed fine.” According to Robert, she worked on Wednesday, but was sent home as she started to experience shortness of breath.

Unfortunately, Maria is an asthma sufferer, as well as a diabetic.

Robert shares that Maria’s hospital treatment should be covered by Workcover. He believes the virus will leave her out of work for quite some time.

He adds that the management at Estia Ardeer have been exemplary in there rules and procedures, and extremely supportive.

Pray for Maria

“We dont know how long she will be in hospital for at this stage. Fingers crossed she gets over this real soon.”

“Please pray for her recovery, we need her back,” said Robert.

READ: Public plea from a Filipino Australian doctor treating COVID patients in Melbourne

Jason Cordi
Jason Cordi
Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Times

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