Front Line of COVID – 19
A message from our Haldimand War Memorial Hospital Interim CEO Sharon Moore.
“The global COVID-19 pandemic is challenging our hospital in a way that’s unprecedented in its 100-year history.
Now more than ever, our front-line service providers are so very grateful for donations that help us provide essential
health care services to our community.”
Heroes on the Front Line…
Now more than ever, our front-line service providers are so grateful for donations that help them provide essential healthcare services to our community.
Please show your support by donating today via www.dhhf.ca, or by calling 905-774-2529
Weekly Heroes will be posted to show our support for our Front-Line.
Hospital Hero – Kendra, Personal Support Worker
Of all the health care professionals working in long-term care homes such as Edgewater Gardens, personal support workers (PSWs) are usually the ones with the closest bonds to the residents. That’s because PSWs tend to residents’ routine health and hygiene needs, while also providing comfort, encouraging independence and being a friendly, ongoing presence in the home.
Never has this role been more important than now, with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in nursing homes being locked down across the province since mid-March. Kendra has been a part-time PSW at Edgewater for the past 12 years, in addition to her role as wife and as a mother to two young boys. She was raised in Dunnville, where her parents still live, but her family home is now in Welland.
She recognizes why so many people in the community are supportive of the employees in health care settings like Edgewater at this difficult time. With friends and relatives limited to interaction with residents via facetime on computers, “We’re the only ones here who can show them love right now,” she says. “They’re like our grandparents.”
Kendra’s introduction to health care began when she was a young child. After her brother died from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, her family decided their experience in caring for him could be useful in helping other chronically people, and for many years they provided respite care in their home. For Kendra, health care became the logical choice for a career. “I love my job, the residents and my co-workers at Edgewater,” she says. “I’m extremely proud of our team in helping to keep our residents safe.”
Hospital Hero – Lisa, Medical Radiation Technologist
While the current COVID-19 pandemic has meant less busy work for medical radiation technologist Lisa, she and her team expect things to change quite a bit very soon.
Once the tourist season begins, and camps and cottages open up, more people will end up in the Emergency Department and more will need X-rays and CT scans.
In the meantime, patients are still coming to the ED with symptoms such as chest pains, and suffering from injuries including automobile accidents. Even those patients transferred to a larger hospital for specialized care typically first have radiology work done at HWMH.
“These days, as a precaution, we are assuming that every patient who comes to us is positive for COVID-19,” Lisa says. This means wearing PPE for an entire shift – which can last up to eight hours, either starting at 8 a.m. for days or 3 p.m. for afternoons. “By the end of the shift, you really feel the dryness in your lungs and nasal passages from wearing the mask,” she explains.
Lisa lives in Dunnville with her husband and three grown children, and has been working at the hospital for nearly 10 years. “I love science and technology, and also helping people,” she says of her decision to become a medical radiation technologist.
As for working at HWMH, she likes that she knows many of the patients who end up in the department for X-rays and scans, and can help make them feel comfortable about the procedures.
“We treat people the way we’d like to be treated,” she says.
Hospital Hero – Dr. Jeff, Emergency Department Chief
While the volume of patients coming to the Emergency Department at HWMH has decreased dramatically, the patients who do show up are generally sicker than before. Plus, there’s always the possibility that some of those patients are positive for COVID-19.
These are the challenges facing the Emergency Department health care team and, in particular the challenges facing Dr. Jeff, the chief of the hospital’s ED.
“Our situation is more complicated than before, and a bit scary,” he says. “The patients we are seeing are waiting until they really feel ill, and our emergency physicians need to have experience in diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions – some of them complex.”
“In a small-town hospital such as ours, we don’t have the layers of back-up that big cities have – such as a trauma team, and other medical and health care specialists.”
The COVD-19 situation is adding another layer of complexity, resulting in more infection control procedures, and therefore adding to the time to assess and treat patients. “We’re doing a lot of procedures differently now,” Dr. Jeff says, but adds he’s thankful there’s now a brand new Emergency Department at the hospital to provide a much better environment for patient care.
As the department chief, much of his time is spent developing new policies and guidelines in line with what’s happening in the larger city hospitals, and in coordinating a seamless delivery of care between HWMH and the St. Catharines site of the Niagara Hospital System– to where the sickest COVID patients are transferred. “As an institution we’ve done an amazingly successful job, from the administration to front-line staff,” Dr. Jeff says. “But that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. We likely have a long way to go in this pandemic situation.”
Hospital Hero – Sherry, Director – Inpatient Unit
After 50 years of employment at HWMH, Sherry retired at the end of April having faced the biggest challenge of her nursing career – the COVID-19 pandemic.
While she says health care has been a constant stream of changes and challenges over the years, none have occurred at the scale and speed as during the past few months.
Sherry began her career as an obstetrical nurse, at a time when babies were still being delivered at the hospital. “I loved it; it was exciting,” she recalls. “We delivered on average a baby a day and most of the time it was a very happy experience.”
Sherry admits she decided to become a nurse because she didn’t want to be a teacher,” emphasizing the limited career choices considered appropriate for women a half century ago. It was a profession she enjoyed, having worked continuously on a full-time basis – even while raising her children.
As the director of HWMH’s Inpatient Unit, Sherry was responsible for managing bed and staff allocations in preparation for a possible influx of COVID-19 patients, participating in daily conference calls with other hospital senior managers, training members of her team, and keeping on top of the unit’s enhanced infection control protocols.
“We’ve all been very careful, and have needed to be sure we don’t become relaxed about it,” she says of the special precautions being undertaken by the hospital.
Hospital Hero – Carol, Dietary Aide
An important part of the operations of a hospital and long-term care home involves ensuring patients, residents and employees receive nutritious meals. Dietary aide Carol is one of the people who is part of the team that ensures this happens at HWMH and Edgewater Gardens.
Every day, 64 Edgewater residents and up to 35 hospital patients are fed three meals per day, along with about 30 staff who go to the cafeteria on weekdays for lunch or continental breakfast offerings.
Carol has worked at the hospital for 37 years, doing just about every food service job available. She now spends her days in the office, and is responsible for such things as ordering food and managing inventory.
Among the challenges she is now facing during the COVID-19 pandemic is securing food supplies. “We’re having some trouble getting in fresh fruit and vegetables, so we make do with frozen or canned,” she says.
Another change is the use of paper plates and plastic cutlery for residents of Edgewater – instead of ceramic dishware and metal utensils – as an added infection control measure.
Reluctant to consider herself a “hero” during the current pandemic, “We’re just doing our jobs,” Carol says, noting that everyone on the dietary team is being extra cautious to ensure patients and residents are kept safe.
Hospital Hero – Ann, Housekeeper
In more than 35 years of working in local hospitals and nursing homes – the past 15 at HWMH – the COVID-19 pandemic has made Ann’s job as a housekeeper more critical than ever.
Ann works eight-hour shifts from Monday to Friday and is assigned exclusively to the Emergency Department for the foreseeable future. The highly contagious nature of the coronavirus means the level of cleaning has been raised even higher than usual.
Wearing full PPE, Ann is constantly wiping down all touch points in the department, as well as equipment, walls and floors. “All I do is clean, clean, clean,” she says. In rooms that have been occupied with patients suspected of being COVID-19 positive, she must wait an hour to enter – to ensure any virus droplets have fallen to the floor.
The Dunnville resident describes the current environment as “scary” but says it’s also a very heart-warming. “Everyone here at the hospital is working hard as a team,” she says. “It’s amazing. We’re all family, and everyone is a hero.”
Hospital Hero – Andrew, Emergency Department Nurse
From the time he was a teenager volunteering in a hospital in Northwestern Ontario, Andrew knew he wanted a career in health care. As an ER nurse at HWMH during this current COVID-19 pandemic, his commitment to patient care is stronger than ever.
“This is what we signed up for,” he says of himself and his fellow health professionals. “We’re trained to handle this. I’m not that worried about becoming infected, but want to stay well so I can continue working to support the community.”
While Andrew continues his 12-hour hospital shifts, he is living alone in the family home in Caledonia, while his wife and two children stay with his parents in Gananoque, nearly 400 kilometres away. With his wife laid off from her job in a home decoration store, he’s grateful to still be working and collecting a paycheque.
An ER nurse at HWMH for the past three years, Andrew previously worked in a psychiatric unit in a hospital in Yellowknife, and more recently in the ER and Intensive Care Unit at a major Hamilton hospital. While there, he was a member of the Ebola preparedness team, which helped provide him with the knowledge and skills to care for patients of this current pandemic.
“I like the opportunity to step into moments when our skills are especially needed, and I get a great satisfaction out of helping patients,” he says.
He emphasizes that he’s impressed with the health care team at HWMH and with the support provided by management during this challenging time.
Please visit Haldimand War Memorial’s Website for the latest COVID-19 updates