Despite the negative impact that Covid 19 had brought upon us, it had given me a once in a lifetime opportunity as a nurse… meeting A-list celebrities as a Covid Swabber. I know it wasn’t a tedious task for a nurse to partake in comparison to the brilliant ITU nurses who fought in a war like zone as they took care of Covid positive patients who are critically ill. But you know what, just like everybody else, the pandemic had a massive impact on my mental health, and this temporary job had given a silver lining in my life at least to this very depressing global problem.
I am working as an agency Theatre Nurse prior to the outbreak disrupting normality, worsening the health of the vulnerable and sadly, taking the lives of people who lost their battle with the deadly disease. Elective operating lists have been canceled to be able to increase the capacity of the NHS and some private hospitals to meet the demands of rising admissions of Covid infected patients at that time. Due to this, I wasn’t able to work for three months. And the nature of my job as an agency nurse is No Work No Pay.
I kept looking and browsing the internet for any job opportunities for Theatre Nurses before my emergency fund got drained. But tab after tab on my computer screen, nothing is coming up. Until one day I came across an advertisement looking for Covid swabbers. I grabbed the chance for me to be able to work again which I have thought initially would be beneficial for my lost savings as well doing something related to work after months of staying at home.
I was lucky to have been vaccinated twice at that point as I started with the temporary post. I know it can give me extra protection as I will be exposing myself to different people everyday with this job. The swabbing is one part of the job but bear in mind there are logistics to follow such as specimen handling, infection control and being a good team player.
I go on a different film set each day and perform Covid swab test which can either be a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or a Lateral Flow Test to all the staff. The shift takes around 10 hours as our team takes a swab sample of approximately 100-150 people per shift.They could be part of the production team or the actors in that particular set.
One shift calls for at least 1 Registered Nurse and the other swabbers could also be HCAs. As the qualified member of the team, I was assigned to swab all the celebrities and the lead production team. Being in a strictly confidential environment, there are basic rules for swabbers at the set and with dealings with celebrities. At first, it was really hard not to get too excited when I saw these celebrities in person. I have also met my all time favorite star and stared at him in starstruck awe. So I have to remind myself all over again, to follow the rules and to be more professional.
First, never ask for a picture with them or ask for an autograph. We have to respect the boundaries and we are there to work and not to be in fan-mode. Someone has actually asked to take a picture with a celebrity and he was sent home straight away. Second, we have to treat them normally. Third, never disclose the celebrities we have swabbed in social media. Lastly, No taking of pictures of the film-sets. ALL FILMS USE A “CODE” like a TITLE CODE/WORKING TITLE. and MUST NOT BE DISCLOSED OUTSIDE THE SITE.
This experience has given a twist in my career. Apart from the novelty of the job as a Covid swabber which I have never done before, I was able to see some of my favorite A-list Stars. I can only give you some hint who they are as their identity must remain confidential following the rules that we have agreed upon. I have been swabbing for A-list stars that work for the likes of Disney, Starwars, DC and Marvel movies. It is a great and enjoyable job and I believe they are still looking for some nurses, if you are interested.