Toi Ohomai Health Centre Staff Volunteer to Battle COVID-19

Team Leader - Health and Wellness Turuhira Marino has been working in the community to help fight against COVID-19

Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020

Nursing staff at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology have been volunteering at health centres in Tauranga and Rotorua to help in the battle against COVID-19.

Under Alert Level 4 conditions, Te Whare Hauora Health Centre staff have been unable to work on campus due to lockdown restrictions. Toi Ohomai has fully supported the redeployment of these staff members to volunteer in the community, while still receiving full pay from the institute.

Team Leader - Health and Wellness Turuhira Marino says the decision to volunteer her time and skills, while also pivoting her team to assist where needed, was an easy decision to make, despite the risk it poses to her family each time she leaves the safety of her household ‘bubble’.


“We identified an opportunity to redirect our nursing staff to help where we were needed most – at the frontlines helping our communities. With the backing and support of Toi Ohomai, we were able to get our skills and expertise right into community and join the fight against COVID-19.”

“Our nursing staff contacted nearby health centre services, and some registered their interest with the ‘Call for Health and Support Workers’ from the Ministry of Health.”

Over the past four weeks, two team members have been on the frontline administering flu vaccines to vulnerable people, including those who are older than 65 or living with long-term respiratory conditions, diabetes or heart disease.

Turuhira has volunteered at Western Heights Health Centre in Rotorua, doing home visits and administering flu vaccines to patients in their cars. Kaitiaki Nurse Janet Hargreaves has also volunteered her expertise to work at Unichem Chadwick Pharmacy in Tauranga, including administering flu vaccines.

Turuhira says the key highlight of volunteering in the community has been the positive response from the public, specifically the overwhelming gratitude expressed by some of our most vulnerable people.

“I feel very privileged to be able to go to work and help, support and care for someone outside of my bubble. Having to ‘decontaminate’ before returning to my whānau was something I’ve had to get used to. While not difficult, it serves as a great reminder to be more mindful about changing clothing and showering before hugging others, especially my much-loved 2-year-old mokopuna in my whare.”

Turuhira says she’s grateful Toi Ohomai allowed staff to volunteer, as it has given them an opportunity to contribute and to strengthen their relationships within the community.

“I also want to say a big thank you to Western Heights Health Centre and Unichem Chadwick Pharmacy for allowing the team to contribute and make a positive difference in our communities.”