National Nursing Week: Appreciating Heroes

By Vanessa Lambe

This week is National Nursing Week and a good way to end this week is an opportunity to recognize a group of heroes in healthcare.

Throughout this crisis, our nurses have shown the type of care that HRH is all about. Despite rising stress levels and many unknowns, our front-line workers continue to offer the best care that they can, while at the same time trying to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. We are extremely proud of our nurses, and all of our staff, who have risen to the occasion and in the midst of hardship, continue to work each day with a determination to help fight this virus.

Many of HRH’s nurses have shared their stories and experiences, what challenges them, and what keeps them going so that others can be aware of the realities of COVID-19. Here’s a look at what some of our nurses have shared and done during this time:

  • A group of HRH nurses held up signs, danced, and sung happy birthday to make one patient’s 90th birthday extra special. They also made sure that she was able to watch a video that her family made since they were unable to visit her. Read the full story here.
  • Stella Cruz, a Nurse Practitioner at our COVID-19 Assessment Centre, shared the measures she is taking to protect her family and those that test positive for the virus. She has learned over the years how to deliver hard news without causing a panic. Her steadiness reaches beyond the Assessment Centre as she has proactively integrated measures to help protect her family. To read more, click here.
  • Jennifer Cao, a Registered Nurse in our ICU who treats some of our most critically ill patients, explains her emotions towards work during these uncertain times. Cao simply states, “Yes, I’m scared, but I’m here to help them.” To read more, click here.
  • Erika Santiago, a Registered Nurse in our ICU, took the time to commend her fellow staff members for their hard work over email. In her email, she highlighted that, “the staff on the 8th floor (both east and west)… have helped make my job as a CCRT RN a whole lot easier (from keeping closed-loop communication between unit and CCRT to assisting with the quick transfer of our critical COVID-19 patients to the ICU).” Santiago explained that while it’s difficult, everyone has continued to step up to the plate. She closed with, “I would like you to just extend words of encouragement and utmost gratitude to all your MDs, RNs, RPNs, and floor staff just to tell them that they are amazing and that their work is NOT going unnoticed.”
  • Abinaya Chandrabalan, a Nurse in our Postpartum Mother-Baby Unit, earned her degree in nursing while working for Toronto Mayor John Tory before joining the HRH team. Even while she is “running on survival mode,” she wants to remind everyone “take care of [yourselves]. This is a difficult time for everyone, not only the essential workers. Be kind to yourself and those around you. It is a time of unknown and we know that causes a lot of angst, worry, fear, and loneliness. We have to all get to the other side of this together.” To read Chandrabalan’s full interview with Global Citizen, click here.
  • Julia Piekielko, a Registered Nurse, is also a PPE marshall responsible for monitoring the flow of PPE. She closely tracks the PPE, with a marker in one hand and a checklist in the other, to ensure doctors and nurses are using the proper PPE and to help manage the PPE supply. “My job is when they’re coming out and when they’re going in, we check and make sure that all the PPE is properly on. When they’re coming out, one by one we go through each step — the safest way we can to avoid any contamination,” she explained. “The main thing that we need to do is prepare, be focused, and make sure that everyone knows the plan going in beforehand.” To read her interview with Global News, click here.

We give our sincerest thanks and appreciation to all of HRH’s nurses, staff, physicians, and volunteers. These individuals continue to be heroes during this pandemic and words fail to give the recognition that is due. Thank you for your service!