It's time to say thanks to those who have helped keep Ballarat COVID-safe
As each day brings lower numbers and a hope to return to life as COVID-normal, it is worth reflecting on those who have never stopped working and played their part to keep Ballarat free from the worst of the pandemic.
Friday will mark a special day to say 'thanks', and first in line deserving our praise are the healthcare workers who, in all their myriad roles, have played a key part.
The Courier and our community salute you.
Look out for the stories of Ballarat's healthcare workers at thecourier.com.au over the coming days
More than 50,000 extra meals have come out of the Ballarat Health Services kitchens since March to provide a back-up in case any other hospital kitchens in the state broke down or were taken out of action because of COVID.
That's on top of about 3000 meals cooked on a regular day and an 'insurance policy' bank of frozen meals BHS created in case they needed them for themselves.
Chef Troy Harbour has helped oversee the massive increase in meals, alongside the implementation of new COVID-safe procedures in the hospital kitchens.
"There's been some long days and night," he said.
"We definitely got busier. We did 50,000 meals for Vic Health which were used to support other hospitals and aged care places throughout Victoria if their kitchens broke down.
"And on top of that we had our own plan in place where we were doing excess meals on top of what we normally do and put in to freezer storage as an insurance policy for our own kitchen in case anything happened."
Demand is back to normal now but the kitchen is on standby to extend hours if extra meals are required.
LEAVE YOUR THANKS TO OUR COVID HEROES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE
The introduction of masks for staff also made things a little steamier than normal in the kitchen.
"The first day, after an hour I thought I couldn't wear one all day but it has become normal. But you've still got to be taking them off a little bit if you're tasting food, and being in a hot kitchen it does start to get pretty warm underneath the mask," he said.
COVID COOKING EFFORT TURNS LIFE ON ITS HEAD
Kristie Campbell's life was turned upside down when COVID hit. From working in the hospital's kitchens during the day, she switched to night shift to supervise the plating of emergency meals.
But it meant she could keep her young daughter home from daycare to avoid any chance of contracting the virus.
MORE THANK YOU STORIES
- Thank you day: Roundabout to be transformed to commemorate Ballarat's COVID healthcare workers
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- Thank you day: Why Ballarat's hospital chefs cooked 50,000 extra emergency meals during the pandemic
- Thank you day: BHS security guard Ali Raza goes from mechanic to security guard
- Thank you day: occupational therapists had to jump in to deliver patient meals and help daily care during COVID
"We took our daughter out of kinder and daycare so I stayed at home with her during the day, and at night I came in to help supervise plating of emergency meals so that was a big change to be working late at night," she said.
That continued for several months until all the emergency meals were completed, and she and her partner felt comfortable sending their daughter back to daycare.
"Wearing a mask at work posed a new set of problems. It's hard to work in them in a hot and steamy environment. You're constantly feeling sweaty and disgusting, you've got an itchy nose all the time and all the condensation."
LEAVE YOUR THANKS TO OUR COVID HEROES HERE