A Blackpool health worker who decided to join the frontline fight against deadly COVID-19 in London has been chosen as a winner of a holiday in Barbados.
Rachael Faustino, 28, was picked as one of 20 winners of an initiative run by the Barbados Tourist Board to reward the selfless efforts of frontline NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
And Rachael, who will going to Barbados with her partner, Ian, said: “I never expected anything like this, none of us do it for recognition, but it was a lovely surprise and I’m really grateful. I’ve never been to the Caribbean before, never mind Barbados, so we’re both looking forward to it.”
Rachael was working as an advanced nurse practitioner at Blackpool’s Urgent Treatment Centre when, in April, she became aware that while the number of COVID-19 cases were rising, the amount of patients attending the Urgent Treatment Centre had fallen.
Having lived in London before and with experience working in acute environments, she felt compelled to use her intensive care skills at the forefront of the outbreak in the capital. Taking leave with the blessing of her bosses, Rachael didn’t hesitate to leave friends and family, relocating alone hundreds of miles away to London to do her bit.
She joined the NHS Nightingale team as a critical care nurse, to help patients but also offer key advice to the registered nurses who’ve never worked in a critical care environment before.
But Rachael’s dedication did not go unnoticed, because she was nominated and was then chosen as a winner of the Barbados Cares NHS initiative, landing the welcome seven-night stay on the sunny Caribbean island.
Rachael, who is now back in Blackpool and is commuting there each day from her current home in the North Lakes area of Cumbria, said: “I decided to do it because I felt I could utilise my skills better by going to where the greatest demand was. I used to work in the major trauma centre of the A&E of St Mary’s Hospital in London so I thought I could go down there again and make a difference.
“It was very busy and very hectic at the Nightingale and I had done nothing like it before, but what was good about it was the way all the different skills of the team came together. We had eye specialists there, dentists, all kinds of different health professionals working really well as a team.”
Given the well-documented stories of doctors, nurses and other health workers catching the disease and dying from it, Rachael was aware of the potential risks but she says she did not hesitate to get involved, and was well equipped with PPE.
The 20 winners of the Barbados Cares NHS initiative were chosen by a panel of judges, comprising friends of the island state and including household names such as world-renowned DJ Carl Cox, Michelin Star Chef Tom Aikens and actor David Harewood, MBE.
A spokesman on behalf of the Tourism Board said: “We thought Rachael’s story in particular stood out as she is so selfless and kind.”
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