man standing in hospital corridor with hand over heart
Jonathan Russell

Gratitude in the midst of a pandemic

For Jonathan Russell, a nurse practitioner at Michael Garron Hospital, focusing on the positive is what helps him get through the uncertainty he faces every day. And it starts with patients.

“I hear so much gratitude, appreciation and words of encouragement,” Jonathan says. “It’s been really amazing to hear healthcare workers be acknowledged so strongly for their commitments. I think people know we’re here for them, that we’ll protect them, and that we’ll be here all the way through. They are incredibly grateful and I’m humbled by that.”

Redeployment leading to new opportunities for staff

While his usual job involves working on the acute pain service helping patients manage their pain after surgery, Jonathan has recently been drawing from his past experiences as an ICU nurse to assist in a different way.

“Now that the needs of the organization have shifted in response to COVID-19, I have been working with hospital leadership to identify ways to build capacity within our critical care program,” he explains. 

These days that work includes facilitating hands-on training sessions for nurses who have been redeployed to the ICU, and supporting staff through the relatively quick transition from their usual setting to one that might not be familiar to them.

He feels very positive about the work the hospital is doing in redeploying staff to areas with the most need.

“We’ve had, and continue to have, a very transparent and coordinated response at the hospital, with the best people we have leading it,” he says. “Crisis situations are overwhelming, but they are also an opportunity to use your skills and inspire those around you, and I think we’re seeing a lot of that right now at many levels.”

Essential workers aren’t just medical staff

But Jonathan is quick to recognize other essential workers in the community.

“It’s not only us,” he says. “It’s easy to think of those of us working in the hospital as essential, and for obvious reasons, but there are so many others who are essential to us and keep other parts of our community going as well. I need a transit operator to get me to work every day, I need grocery store workers so I can feed myself … without these workers, and people like them, it would be insurmountably more difficult for us to do our jobs.” 

Jonathan hopes the value and importance of jobs like this continue to be recognized long ater the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

“They deserve every bit of those cheers you hear every night,” he says, “just as much as medical staff do.”

He also hopes we continue to focus on hope and positivity as a community.

“We have such a dynamic team here at the hospital, and a highly engaged community,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of power in that. Amidst all the uncertainty, I think we can also find things to be thankful for, like the many ways the community is supporting the hospital, whether it’s sewing masks or donating PPE or feeding the staff, and look for opportunities to spread that positivity. We are in this together and we will get through it together.”