Messages from Inside PRHC

Meet Emily, a nurse on the front line at PRHC's Labour & Delivery Unit

My name is Emily Boyle (photo at left by Mary Zita Payne). I work in Labour & Delivery and have felt sheltered from some of the fear regarding COVID-19. The population that my AMAZING colleagues and I care for in our department are primarily healthy and likely have been cautious in social distancing.

Has our practice changed? Absolutely. But one thing that hasn’t changed is how much I love my job.

I love caring for labouring mothers and being part of their birthing experience. We help families grow and become whole. We comfort women in their most vulnerable moments. We are the first people to hold the new members of our society. That hasn’t and won’t change.

With the added precautions to protect us and the families we care for, we do unfortunately give up part of what keeps our patients at ease. You can no longer see our huge grins as a woman delivers their baby. Birth photos are different: everyone has masks, face shields and yellow gowns on. When we are providing physical labour support, we are all wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). The one labour support person who is allowed in the room is also wearing a mask, and for most of the time, so is the woman in labour. The acts are all the same, yet so different.

We have become an even bigger part of our patients’ support team. We have become photographers, videographers, entertainers and confidants. We are calling patients to ensure that they are well informed of the current practice, fielding calls from anxious mothers, and providing information through social media via Partners in Pregnancy Clinic, Evolve Women’s Health Care Group and Kawartha Community Midwives. We are advocating for the labour and delivery experience to go in accordance to birth plans, within our means. We are protecting the brand-new babies as if they are our own and keeping mothers well informed and educated as the experience unfolds. There are quite a few things out of our control during this pandemic, but we are holding strong to the things that are in our control.

What we have found in regard to how patients feel about delivering their babies during a pandemic is that many are surprised by how intimate the experience has become for them. Most find that the limited visitor guidelines have made it so that they are able to cherish this experience and enjoy the time with their partner or support person without the added excitement that comes with more visitors. They are able to savour the moment a little more and – for those with other children at home – enjoy the peace and quiet a little bit longer.

What I can’t stress to you enough is that our dedication to care and our compassion haven’t changed. I might even say that our compassion has grown, if that’s possible.

As for my feelings during this… In all honesty, it is always hard to leave my young family. Not because of the unknown, but because of the same guilt so many working parents carry about being away from their family. As nurses, we work 12-hour shifts. I work mostly night shifts because that allows me to at least see my children during the day and allows for my husband to run his business.

But now my husband’s company hours have decreased, and my children are always home. No more getting up early post-nights so that I can spend a few hours with them. No more stressing about working days because I won’t see them for days on end. I get unlimited time with my children when I’m not working, and I can’t even begin to tell you how great that feels.

I miss the friends I can’t see outside of work, I feel sad for my children who can’t see their friends, and I hurt for those who are alone or afraid during this pandemic. I am however, trying to remain optimistic.

I went into nursing to be the light for someone during trying times. And these are trying times, if there was ever a definition of that. I went into nursing to change lives, to help them, to bring new ones in. Now, more than ever, we as nurses get to do just that. These days are ever-changing and who knows what is coming. But I am confident that we will get through it together. I feel deeply for the lives that will be touched or lost, but my promise as a nurse in this community is that I will do everything in my power to help us get through it.

I’ll do my part to care for our obstetrical patients and make their experience safe and less scary during this pandemic. My request to you, my fellow community members, is that you continue to play your part to flatten the curve. Thank you.

I’ll be seeing a lot of you in nine months…

WATCH: Emily Boyle has a personal message of thanks for you...

When you make a gift in support of the PRHC Foundation, your donation will directly support healthcare professionals like Emily. If you can, donate today!

 

Housing partnership between PRHC and Trent University a welcome comfort in time of uncertainty

A Registered Nurse (RN) at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC), Anna Harris (photo at right courtesy of PRHC) was assigned as one of the charge nurses on the designated COVID-19 inpatient unit in April. As a mother to three young children, she says her biggest fear was bringing the virus home to her family.

Anna was looking into options that would allow her to isolate from her family when the partnership between PRHC and Trent University – making residence rooms available for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic – was announced. She says the news came as “a huge relief,” and she was one of the first PRHC employees to move into Gzowski College.

“Making the decision to leave my house and move into Trent was not easy,” says Anna. “It’s an uncertain time. Everyone has their own decision to make, but with so many unknowns, I felt like moving into the university residence was the best decision for me and my family. The decision to self-isolate became the one thing I could control during this time.”

Nicole Glover (photo at right courtesy of PRHC) is an RN in the Emergency Department at PRHC, and an alumna from the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing. She has been taking advantage of the housing partnership to support herself and her family in a different way. With two young kids at home, working night shifts can be difficult. Rather than staying at Trent full-time, Nicole has been using the residence as a place for her to rest when she’s working night shifts.

“The constant changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought at work, as well as to my personal life, have absolutely taken a physical, mental and emotional toll,” says Nicole. “Knowing that I can get a sound sleep at Trent when I’m working night shifts, and that there is a place for me to go if anything changes and I feel like my kids or family are at risk, is reassuring.”

“I want to thank PRHC and Trent for making the transition to living away from home as easy as it could be,” adds Anna. “All the little things – the signage to guide us to the right parking lot, the visible security guards and amazing housekeeping staff, the welcome sign and even supplying laundry detergent for us – have made a big difference.”

On behalf of everyone at PRHC and PRHC Foundation, thank you to Trent University for donating residence space as temporary housing for frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic. And thank you to Foundation donors for supporting this initiative! Through your donations to the COVID-19 response fund, you’ve helped fund some of the ancillary accommodation costs such as cleaning and sanitation. You’ve helped to give PRHC healthcare professionals and their families great comfort during a challenging time.

Learn more about the PRHC and Trent partnership. PRHC healthcare workers who are interested in learning more can email askhr@prhc.on.ca.

This story was originally published by Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

 

Meet Melissa, a nurse on the front line at PRHC's NICU

My name is Melissa Saliga (photo at left by Mary Zita Payne). I have worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Peterborough Regional Health Centre since 2017. I became a Registered Nurse in 2012 and I’ve always worked in either a NICU or Pediatric Unit.

I love my job. Working with babies and their families gives me a sense of purpose, passion, and satisfaction that nothing else matches. I am always trying to learn more and stay ahead of the curve in this ever growing, ever changing area of nursing. One thing that has been particularly hard to stay ahead of the curve on has been the coronavirus and COVID-19.

As a NICU nurse, I typically work with babies who are premature, have low birth weight, are medically compromised, or any combination of the above. Some babies I only meet briefly at the time of their birth, others I admit and care for in the NICU for days or even weeks prior to discharging them. I often work with babies that require transfer to a tertiary care centre for care before they can return here for care closer to home.

COVID-19 has changed the way we do our jobs on a daily basis. Our infection control policies and procedures have been greatly intensified. The nurses and staff have become even more passionate about keeping our tiny charges and their families safe. We also now have the added responsibility of protecting one baby from another within the NICU.

The delivery and possible need for resuscitation of a baby born to a COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 suspected mother presents new and unique challenges to us as a care team.The personal protective equipment (PPE) we wear to attend deliveries has also changed, as has how we utilize staff at deliveries. But we’re rising to these challenges and expanding our knowledge and skills every day.

One of the most difficult changes has been the updating of our visiting policy to only permit parents to visit, and separately. Visiting parents are screened for potential illness and must wear a mask at all times while in the NICU, and unfortunately, our NICU Care-By-Parent Rooms have been closed until further notice.

Because of these changes, parents are relying on phone and video calls, and are sending lots of photos and videos to help keep their families connected. We also offer virtual visiting as supported by the hospital, and the nurses and doctors are giving more telephone updates than ever before.

Being a nurse during COVID-19 can be stressful. Sometimes I’m nervous that despite all our precautions, I’ll be exposed to the virus and unwittingly transmit it to others. And I’m unsure about the potential impact this virus could have on my physical, mental and emotional health. What keeps me focused is the knowledge that everyone – both here at PRHC and in the community – is working together and giving our best.

I want to thank everyone for their efforts – big and small. I want to thank the healthcare workers. I want to thank the grocers, truck drivers, police and firefighters, and other essential workers. I want to thank everyone who is staying home and maintaining social distancing. I want to thank the people who are going out of their way to be kind to healthcare workers right now: the people involved in the first responder parade, the people donating PPE and supplies, the people making masks and mask buddies, and anyone who is sending us happy thoughts, kind words or prayers.

Finally, I want to thank the donors who are supporting us and the care we give our patients through donations to the PRHC Foundation.

We are all in this together and we’ll get through it together (while staying apart)!

When you make a gift in support of the PRHC Foundation, your donation will directly support healthcare professionals like Melissa. If you can, donate today!

 

Meet Emily, a nurse on the front line at PRHC's COVID-19 Assessment Centre

Emily Hughes (photo at right by Mary Zita Payne) has worked at PRHC for the last five years as a Registered Nurse in several capacities. Her current role is in PRHC’s Quality Department as a Program Support Partner. However, when the pandemic hit, Emily was redeployed to help support the COVID-19 Assessment Centre. We talked to Emily about how this pandemic has changed her life and her work.

Emily, please tell us a bit about yourself.

"I graduated 13 years ago from Trent University and have been working as a Registered Nurse ever since. I live my passion every day.

When not working, you can find me spending time with my wonderful family – a very supportive husband and two wild and incredibly lovable boys. We are a busy family, doing everything from racing horses to hitting the slopes on our skis and snowboards."

How has COVID-19 changed your role at PRHC?

"Ask any nurse at PRHC and they will tell you, there is a ‘before COVID-19’ and everything after the moment we became immersed in the pandemic. Before COVID-19, I was working on multiple projects across the hospital. My work was focussed on supporting our medical teams by looking for ways to improve processes and better support teams in delivering patient care. I enjoyed coffee breaks with my peers and face-to-face meetings with colleagues.

When COVID-19 hit, our hospital switched gears quickly to protect and continue to serve the community, while putting processes in place to keep us safe. It was an effort unlike anything I had ever seen in my career.  My projects were all put on hold, most face-to-face meetings were replaced by teleconferences and video calls, and we began wearing masks for the entirety of our shifts. I have to say though, it’s the little things I miss most, like a smile or a hug from a colleague. 

I was then redeployed to the PRHC COVID-19 Assessment Centre to help develop processes and to support staff as they learned their new roles. This was new to all of us. We have never seen a pandemic like this, we have never worked in a temporary location outside of our hospital, testing hundreds of scared patients for a potentially deadly virus. And our patients weren’t the only ones who were scared.

For the first time in my career I was afraid to go home and hug my children. My husband and I made the tough decision to move my kids to my in-laws’ house to protect them. Home was once our safe place, and it was a hard reality to accept that I was putting that at risk for my entire family.

Fast forward eight weeks, and I can share with you that we have developed a rhythm and a level of confidence in our routine at the Assessment Centre. We have embraced our new roles, we feel safe and protected from the virus with the safety protocols put in place, and although I would never say this feels normal, we are adapting as best we can to our new reality."

What does a day look like in the COVID-19 Assessment Centre?

"The day begins with a daily team huddle at 8:00am. Two clerical staff, three nurses, and two physicians gather while keeping a safe distance to review processes, address any concerns and questions, and set a positive tone for the day.

We gear up. My daily uniform consists of scrubs, protective gown, gloves, mask, cap and a visor. The clerical staff take their position behind a sheet of plexiglass ready to greet patients. One nurse takes the role at the door making sure all patients disinfect their hands and put on a mask, then they walk the patient through what is about to take place to help ease any anxieties. The other two nurses each partner up with a physician. They work together to assess each patient and perform the swab. 

Pre-scheduled appointments begin at 8:30am. We book two visits for every 10 minutes with our last visit booked for 7:20pm. Most days are filled with back-to-back appointments, so the days can be long. We are wearing full personal protective equipment for nearly 12 hours a day. It’s hot, hard to breathe and my face hurts. We have all had to remember that patients cannot see our faces. The simple ways we used to reassure patients have had to change. A comforting smile. A gentle reassuring tap on the arm. Instead we now focus on verbally reassuring patients and making sure they know they are safe. The days are long, but well worth any discomfort we feel to serve our patients and our community."

When this pandemic is behind us, what will you remember most about it?

"At the end of this I will remember what amazing things our hospital was able to do in such a short period of time. So many of us have been asked to do things we never thought we would, and we are going to come out of this even stronger than when we went in. As an organization and as a community, I think we are doing an amazing job."

Our community and donors have rallied to support our hospital and frontline staff - what would you like to say to them?

"I would like to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your ongoing support and your kindness to the staff at PRHC. It has not gone unnoticed and will always be remembered."

WATCH: Emily Hughes has a personal message of thanks for you…

When you make a gift in support of the PRHC Foundation, your donation will directly support healthcare professionals like Emily. If you can, donate today!

 

Donor-funded tools and scrubs are supporting and protecting PRHC patients and staff

For months, frontline workers at PRHC have been mobilizing for the fight against COVID-19, the potentially deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus. While healthcare providers are prepared, an urgent need still exists for the technology and supplies required to equip, support, and maintain the extraordinary changes undertaken at PRHC in a short period of time – changes that will help the hospital's doctors, nurses, and staff continue to save patients’ lives while protecting their own.

Responding to an urgent request for support from PRHC partners, the PRHC Foundation quickly established a COVID-19 response fund dedicated to the hospital’s most urgent pandemic-related priorities. What followed was a heartfelt outpouring of generosity from the community and you, our incredible donors.

We would like to thank everyone who has already supported the fund and PRHC’s COVID-19 response. Your generosity has already had an impact, funding urgent investments to support the hospital during this crisis, and ensuring PRHC’s doctors, nurses and healthcare support workers can continue to protect and care for patients with the same dedication and compassion they show day in and day out.

Because of your donations, the hospital was able to immediately purchase 15 iPads that are now in use at the Health Centre. The iPads make it possible for patients to connect with family members and friends who are unable to visit them in the hospital. They are also incredibly important for palliative patients who are using them to connect with loved ones for comfort, support and end of life decision making (photo above of the Palliative Care team with the iPads by Mary Zita Payne).

Your donations are also helping keep PRHC’s frontline healthcare providers and their patients safe by funding a crucial supply of additional scrubs, for those who need them, helping prevent the spread of infection.

Also, thanks to your generosity, PRHC now has new plexiglass screening stations in place at essential points throughout the hospital. The stations help PRHC conserve personal protective equipment and keep everyone – healthcare workers, patients and staff – safe in the Health Centre environment.

Stay tuned for more updates on your COVID-19 response fund investments. In the meantime, on behalf of everyone at PRHC, including patients and their loved ones, thank you so much for standing behind our hospital.

 

Thank you from former NICU family

"We’ll be forever grateful to the incredible staff in PRHC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the donors who funded the technology they used to save our son Beau nine years ago. That’s why we support the PRHC Foundation today. We want to give families like ours the best possible gift - the chance to take their little one home.”

Erin Marshall, PRHC Foundation Donor & Grateful Mom

 

 

 

"I'm so lucky..."

This year, Michelle Thornton will spend Christmas with her family. In the morning she and her husband will go over to their son’s house to watch the little ones open their gifts. Later, they’ll share a wonderful dinner with their daughter and other family members. But it doesn’t really matter how they spend the day. The important thing is being together.

They know it could have been a very different holiday. In 2014 a routine follow up at PRHC’s Breast Assessment Centre identified changes in Michelle’s right breast. A biopsy confirmed her radiologist’s suspicion. Michelle had an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“I remember sitting in the doctor’s office, shocked to hear the word cancer,” recalls Michelle. Fortunately, Michelle’s cancer was caught early. She had a mastectomy but needed no further treatment. Today, she is cancer-free, grateful to spend the holidays with her husband, two children and three grandchildren.

And she is grateful to you for helping make it possible. “It’s thanks to donor support that my cancer was found before it became invasive,” Michelle says. “It’s because of the equipment you helped to fund that I’m where I am today. Thank you.”

Yes! I want to make a difference in the lives of patients.

 

 

 

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