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HomeNewsLocal Nurses Share Pandemic Hardships And Triumphs Amid National Nurses Week

Local Nurses Share Pandemic Hardships And Triumphs Amid National Nurses Week

KAWARTHA LAKES -As Melissa Gibson layers herself in PPE, washes her hands repeatedly and heads to the Ross Memorial Hospital for her shift as a registered practical nurse, she is prepared, with one mission in mind, to care for others.

Registered Nurse Melissa Gibson

And as the world continues to grapple with the Pandemic, nurses like Gibson continue to fight on the front lines, now more than ever, playing a vital role in our health care system.

Gibson became a nurse in 2013 and has been at The Ross Memorial ever since. And while she has always thrived in her career, her stress levels have hit an all-time high since the pandemic began. With new guidelines and restrictions, Gibson has witnessed many patients die from loneliness.

“I’ve seen many patients pass and I will definitely say they died of loneliness, especially at the beginning,” she said. “With no visitation, some patients had been there with a loved one who visited daily or stayed all day, you take that out of the equation, you see some sad things.”

According to Gibson, restrictions on the human touch and limitations on visitors has been her biggest struggle since the pandemic began.

“The things you go through losing a loved one to begin with and then having that extra barrier in that moment at the last stages of life is horrible,” she said.

And while regulations encourage social distancing and forbid human touch, Gibson noted that that will always be part of her practice.

“It (the pandemic) changes quite a bit, but it hasn’t changed how I nurse, except you’re just mentally a lot more aware, you just treat situations differently. Embracing a family member when they have lost a loved one is still in my practice and I still do it as it’s human nature but every time, I know it’s a risk,” she said. “I have some immune compromised people in my family, if I brought it home, there is the stress of that.”

But the stress for Gibson continues with many triggers throughout the day and continues when she gets home.

“I take it home more, it resonates off of me, I feel more stress,” she said.

Gibson noted that being notified that one of her patients tested positive for the virus will always be engraved in her mind. How the entire team of medical officials pulled together to save lives and keep everyone safe will also always remain in her memory.

“When we had a patient test positive, they were very quick, the whole team, to come and assist us to properly take the patient (to the Covid unit) in the safest way possible, as a unit we did band together quite well, supporting each other, everyone was scared,” she said. “It will probably stay with me forever, I think overall, our unit was handled very well.”

Gibson was at home when she heard that one of her patients tested positive and her husband quickly began to delve into the possibility of segregating her from the rest of the family.

“Did I wash my hands properly, was I wearing all of my PPE, every little thing goes through your head,” she said. “And in my family, I have a kid that has Asperger’s, he wouldn’t be able to segregate from me, it was very scary.”

For Lisa Falls, an Operating Room (OR) Registered Nurse who has been in the OR at the Ross Memorial Hospital for over 18 years, she has been required to slightly shift gears as staff have had to postpone elective surgeries since the pandemic touched down, a difficult and big change for Falls.  She has also had to say goodbye to some fellow employees as they have been deployed to various higher need areas.

And while the changes and the unknowns of the pandemic have been frightening, Falls noted that the hospitals strict protocols in the OR that have been laid out by occupation health and infection control, keep her mind at ease.

“I feel safe in the fact that we have professionals to help us through times like this,” she said. “The hardest part is not being able to continue doing elective surgeries, that’s out speciality in the field I’m in. We have heard from people waiting and not being able to help them at this time is hard, I look forward to the days that things get back to normal and we can do the job that we do.”

But through the pandemic, Falls continues to work the front lines, saving lives through emergency surgeries and various cancer cases. And while many patients are left alone during one of the scariest moments of their lives, Falls thrives on being that hand to hold and that comforting voice telling them it’s going to be okay.

She recently had that opportunity with her children’s elementary school teacher who was undergoing breast cancer surgery. Nervous and worried, with no loved ones by her side, Falls gave her patient a familiar hand to hold and reminded her that she would be okay.

“I was able to be with her and comfort her when she needed it, she did a blog post about her breast cancer story and she mentioned how thankful she was,” she said. “It was really comforting for her and it was nice to hear that, it was neat.”

According to Falls, the hospital gives patients the option of having a medical professional in the room that they know, this patient was elated to see a friendly face.

“You always wonder if you should be there for people you know or not, but we always give them the choice, and she was absolutely thrilled to have me comfort her when she couldn’t have anyone in her family to be with her,” said Falls. “I remember her being so stressed and I was holding her hand and I said it’s okay, we got you, she said it was like an angel sitting over her when she needed one most.”

Through her blog posts, Falls was able to monitor her patient’s journey. She has now had all of her treatments and has returned to work.

“Everybody at the hospital is encouraging the community to stay strong, we can fight this together if we all do our part,” she said.

To thank them for all they do, Nurses week is celebrated across the globe from May 10 to 16 to highlight and recognize their roles and contributions.

Thanks to each and every one of you!!

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Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker
Jennifer decided to study journalism after having a life long passion for writing. She began her career as a reporter for the Uxbridge Times Journal and moved on to freelance work for various publications after her and her husband welcomed their daughters. She has been published in various Durham Region newspapers, the Durham Parent Magazine as well as Equine Wellness. Jennifer continues to follow her dreams as a wife, mother and journalist and is so excited to join the team at Kawartha411.

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