Q. What is your day to day role, and how has it changed since your redeployment?
I’m a respiratory therapist and educator in the chest centre, and my role usually involves things like testing pulmonary function, training patients on things like how to use inhalers and doing blood pressure testing, electrocardiograms (ECGS) and saturation testing. Our clinic here in the chest centre was ramping down due to COVID-19 and my manager asked me if I’d be willing to be redeployed to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.
In the first couple of weeks, we largely dealt with “the worried well” – those who thought they had COVID-19 and likely didn’t, but needed some reassurance. But as time went on, we’ve dealt more with heathcare workers or people who tested positive and then needed two negative swabs in order to be able to go back to work.
Especially in the first two and half weeks, it was so busy in the Assessment Centre that I couldn’t imagine how the emergency department would have been able to survive without it in place. I recently spoke with an emergency doctor who agreed that the clinic served a really important function in diverting patients away from emergency. I think almost 1,200 people came through the centre in the first two weeks.
Q. How did you feel about being redeployed to a new area?
I think healthcare workers have a similar personality type – under it all we just really want to help people in some way, and that really shines through in this situation. Most people don’t have an issue with going with the flow – if they need my skills there, that’s where I’ll go.
Q. What makes you feel positive about the work you’re doing at the assessment centre?
Almost every patient who has come in to the Assessment Centre has been so appreciative and thankful. They really look at us as like we’re soldiers in an invisible war against this virus. They tell us that they appreciate us putting ourselves on the line for them in some way. But I feel safer working here than going to the grocery store!
I had a physician say to me recently how much they appreciate the assessment clinic staff out there doing the swabs; we’re helping people as one of the first lines of defense against the virus.. That was a really nice acknowledgement. I think people in general are just really grateful that we’re there, helping them out. I feel a real sense of community. I think that will be one of the biggest things that comes out of this – that feeling of community and how appreciative of healthcare workers people are.
Because my profession is currently in high demand, I’ll soon be redeployed elsewhere in the hospital. But I’m really grateful to have had this experience, and have really enjoyed the opportunity to get out of my regular environment and meet some fantastic triage nurses, family doctors, emergency doctors – they’re all people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. And I’m thankful to have been able to help the community in this way during the pandemic.