Army of volunteers supports Australian frontline workers by producing thousands of scrubs

Healthcare workers across the country will receive a free pair of scrubs as part of a volunteer-led response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 6,000 orders to be filled by the end of the month.

Founded by Victorian Annabelle Parsons “over a glass of wine and Zoom”, with a healthcare worker in April this year, Rona Scrubs is a not-for-profit that produces scrubs for “healthcare heroes” to “ease some of the burdens and worries healthcare workers are facing during COVID-19,” according to the organisation’s website.

Despite humble beginnings, demand from workers was also strong, with 6,275 total orders registered and confirmed, the group are rapidly expanding their reach to meet demand.

They have also garnered support from fabric retail giant Spotlight, and more than 3,000 registered volunteers have dedicated time to the project.
Ms Parsons was effusive when describing the initiative’s success, with more than 5,000 orders already filled ahead of next week’s deadline.

“The team at Rona Scrubs are in awe of what we have been able to achieve with the kind, generous support of everyone involved,” she said.
“We have far exceeded our original expectations.”

Emma Koster, a registered nurse, working at Monash Health’s Clayton campus, said she registered her details with Rona Scrubs, adding volunteers contacted to confirm her interest in a pair “a few weeks ago”.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love some,’ and the next thing I know, they were just delivered on my front porch which was lovely,” Ms Koster said, adding it made the necessity of keeping a clean pair on hand easier given that she was now working “virtually full-time” due to the pandemic.

“Since coronavirus has actually hit and everything’s happened, I’ve been working a lot more so I actually had a shortage of scrubs… They are quite expensive, and it’s not like a lot of clothes where you can kind of re-wear them when you’re in a hospital setting you need to wash them every day.”

For Maria Tessari, one of Rona Scrubs’ “Archangel Distributors”, who was responsible for coordinating production and order distribution in Victoria’s Maroondah and Manningham areas, volunteering gave her a greater appreciation of the ongoing demands that healthcare workers faced right now.

“The amount of work that went behind-the-scenes is bigger than what anyone else would know,” Ms Tessari said.
While her home state is grappling with a significant number of outbreaks, Ms Tessari, who works from home full-time for Australia Post’s customer service team, noted those on the frontline have already behaved as if the worst had arrived for quite some time.

“They still have to follow process, so they still have to make sure their equipment is sanitised, their clothes are sanitised…and they still have to walk in the hospital like there is a pandemic in place,” she said.

Nevertheless, with her team producing more than 400 scrubs for the workers in their area, she was grateful to be able to assist those who will be performing difficult work over the coming weeks and months ahead.

“I feel really honoured that I was able to do this… every little bit helps.”

While the Rona Scrubs project is winding down, the organisation is still seeking donations to assist sewers and help deliver the remaining orders, with members of the public able to donate online on the Rona Scrubs website.

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