National Nurses’ Week takes special importance after year of COVID-19

During National Nursing Week, Miranda Fatur hears from nurses across the Lower Mainland about the important roles they’ve played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – National Nurses’ Week is taking special precedence this year given the sacrifices made by front-line health-care workers in the fight against COVID-19.

“We’ve really shone the light on nursing and the incredible role that we play. That sense of pride and that sense of professionalism really helps to elevate us as a profession as well,” said Sherry Kensall from the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC).

With the spotlight on them and their essential work, some nurses are choosing to speak out and share their challenges and experiences from the past year.

“Every single time we think we’ve got this pandemic understood and know what to do, it throws another curve at us… The hardest part is when you have a patient who is a little bit confused because they’re critically ill. They don’t know who is taking care of them because we are all wearing masks and goggles and they can’t interact with their family members,” said Vini Bains, a clinical nurse specialist in critical care at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Bains, a nurse with over 25 years of experience, has experienced significant changes in the workplace over the last 14 months. But despite that, she still has some hope.

“I never went into nursing school thinking that we would have this once-in-100-year pandemic … We’ve really had to change the way we do public health and safety. For the most part, Canadians are taking care of each other,” she said.

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Jordan Horvath, an emergency room nurse at Vancouver General Hospital, knows exactly how much has changed, given the immense amount of care needed to help a COVID-19 patient.

“Usually we’ve got someone in the room who is providing care as a nurse. We’ve got a respiratory therapist in the room, and a physician in the room. But outside of the room we have to have clean providers, who are able to go and get things, put in orders, ensure that we have everything we need for that patient,” he said.

Outside of the emergency room, all other units of the hospital have also felt the effects of the pandemic.

While patients affected by COVID have been a priority, ensuring the safety of other patients — especially those who are immunocompromised — has become even more essential, according to Kensall.

“As we saw more and more patients trickling in with COVID, it was really caring for those patients, and really reassuring them that we can keep them safe and that we can keep them as healthy as possible, and reassuring the other patients around them,” she said.

Facing burnout and fear of getting infected, nurses have continued to support their communities and care for those in need. According to Horvath, at the end of the day all a nurse can do is “just hope that [they’ve] provided excellent care.”

Bains went on to add nurses have really come together as a team and supported each other in the past year.

“I work with the most amazing, courageous, dedicated, incredible people. It is an honour to spend everyday with them,” she said.

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