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Frontline workers share experiences about working amid COVID-19 pandemic

May 21, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

Essential workers from an assortment of industries are working tirelessly on the frontlines to provide healthcare, food and other services to ensure local residents are able to carry on living as normal a life as possible during COVID-19 pandemic. 

With a long list of approximately 80 health and safety guidelines provided from the provincial and federal government, businesses and service providers have had to make drastic and critical changes to be able to follow the proper instructions that have been outlined to them. These guidelines have been implemented by the Chief Medical Officer of Health keep customers, employees and patients safe.

Communities have showed their support by organizing parades to drive by local hospitals, making donations, and creating signs or art to put outside their homes to tell our frontline workers how appreciative we are of the work they do. 

As everyone is being greatly impacted by COVID-19, it’s vital we know how our frontline workers are coping as well. 

Members at Headwaters Health Care Centre and Foundation have been sharing their stories on social media, to give an understanding of how their daily works lives have been impacted while working through the pandemic. 

“Since COVID-19, I have taken on a temporary role change. I have transitioned to Monday – Friday eight-hour shifts. A big change from shift work! I have been working to increase RT staffing and to help prepare the ER for a surge of COVID patients. I am continually impressed with the teamwork and support I see in the hospital since the COVID-19 crisis began. Teamwork has always been a positive factor at HHCC, but it is even more so now with everybody watching out for each other, keeping us all safe,” said Laura Graydon, a Charge Respiratory Therapist at the local hospital. 

Janet Wells is a cardio-pulmonary technician within the ambulatory care wing at Headwaters hospital. She too has had to adjust to something of a role change in recent weeks. 

“My role has changed from performing Lung Function Tests and Oxygen Assessments with Outpatients to meeting, greeting and screening all staff, patients and visitors. I consider my role to be assuring that all people who need to be at the hospital are well protected from exposure to COVID-19. It is great to see the relationship that is growing between our hospital and the community we serve,” she said. 

Jennifer Dinnick-Johnston is a member of the cleaning staff at the local facility as an environmental services aide. She, alongside a collection of other janitorial staff members, have stepped up in a big way since the pandemic hit a little more than two months ago. 

“Since the onset of COVID-19, I have seen a big change in the volume of isolation cleans. We have increased our staffing, which is a huge support,” Jennifer said. “I am most proud of the teamwork of our department during this challenging time, as well as, knowing I am doing my part to ensure we are eliminating the spread of this virus with the continuance of our enhanced cleaning practices,” 

While hospital staff have been incredible busy reacting to our new COVID-19 reality, so too have members of the Headwaters Health Care Foundation – the fundraising arm charged with finding the money to pay for vital upgrades and equipment purchases at the facility. Nicole Warren is a key member of the organization’s marketing and communications team, and she shared her experiences about how her position has changed in recent weeks.

“At the onset of COVID-19, I spent some time working with the hospital’s communications team, and also maintaining the Foundation’s communication with donors and keeping them informed with the Hospital’s Capital Equipment Needs,” Warren said. “I am most proud of the positive and heartfelt response from our community during these unprecedented times.”

Members of the Caledon community have also gone to great lengths to show their support for those working on the front lines, including one local resident who has been living apart from her partner to protect each other and their children. 

In support of the community, long-time local Bolton resident Emma Palumbo decorated and created a rainbow tree on the front lawn of their home on the South Hill in Bolton to show support for not only her husband, Ron, who works as a manager at a nursing home in Toronto, but for all frontline workers. One of their children is currently recovering from a surgery, leaving Ron to take up temporary residence elsewhere during these difficult times. 

Trudy Mulder-Hall is a Registered Nurse (RN) with the Clinical Lead Team at Bethell Hospice and is proud of how well prepared the organization was to handle the pandemic. 

“What stands out to me is how well Bethell Hospice was prepared for this completely unexpected situation, how resilient our team has been, and what wonderful support we have in the community. We have a wonderful, knowledgeable clinical and leadership team, and a super-supportive board.  We had well-stocked pandemic supplies, and a strong health and safety committee already in place. We have staff that are certified to do mask fit testing, and had all staff updated by the end of January 2020,” she explained. “

Bethell Hospice has made critical changes in their day-to-day work to keep staff safe, as well as their patients. Some changes have proved to be more difficult than others, especially for those that impact the people under their care. 

“One of the changes that has been toughest on everyone is the evolving visitor policies to ensure optimal safety, while at the same time keeping the residents connected to those that matter most to them,” said Mulder-Hall. “Keeping social distance, and not being able to give someone a hug, is very difficult in palliative care situations. But all changes that have been made are to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

Though the pandemic has rained it’s challenges and struggles down upon our frontline workers, it has also shined a light on all the wonderful work they do.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made me realize how fortunate I am to work with such an amazing team, organization and community,” Mulder-Hall remarked. “The knowledge, skill, judgement, respect and support we have in our Bethell Hospice community, and the connections we have to our broader community and health partners are so important.  I feel that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important palliative care is, and how Bethell Hospice is a key partner in helping everyone have access to palliative care when they need it.” 



         

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