Nurses at the Cowichan District Hospital are thanking the community for following the health protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left are nurses Jacqueline Kendall, Melissa Bustard and Heidi Ferris. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Nurses at the Cowichan District Hospital are thanking the community for following the health protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left are nurses Jacqueline Kendall, Melissa Bustard and Heidi Ferris. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Pandemic year like no other, Cowichan nurses say

May 10-16 is National Nursing Week

Heidi Ferris lived downstairs in her family home alone for a month when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

Ferris, an emergency nurse at Cowichan District Hospital with 12 years working in her field, said she was concerned she would bring the virus home to her husband and two children, aged nine and 10.

“I used to strip out of my clothes immediately when I got home from work, even though we wore protective uniforms while at the hospital,” she said.

“I would just wave at my family from the bottom of the stairs and cook on a hot plate. Fortunately, we have learned a lot more about COVID-19 since then and I’m living with my family again in my house, but it was a very difficult time.”

Similar stories are being shared by nurses across the country as National Nursing Week, May 10-16, is being celebrated after a full year of the pandemic.

RELATED STORY: FUTURE NURSES, DOCTORS WANT LESSONS FROM PANDEMIC TO CREATE BETTER HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM

Jacqueline Kendall, another nurse at CDH who has 14 years of experience in her profession, said the past year had her, and many colleagues, stretched to the limit both in their professional and personal lives.

She said she shares a farm with her parents and young daughter and she was also terrified in the early days of the pandemic that she would bring the virus home from work.

“My mother has asthma and other health conditions, and that added to the extra stress we were feeling at work in the early days of COVID-19,” Kendall said.

Melissa Bustard, an emergency room nurse and coordinator of site operations at CDH, said she and her husband began sleeping in separate bedrooms and had devised back-up plans for any worst-case scenarios during the pandemic, like her moving to a hotel if necessary to protect her family. The nurses said the stress at the hospital when the pandemic began was bad enough, without also having to worry about the impacts on their families.

“The hospital’s staff were in a constant state of urgency waiting for a major influx of patients at any given time that hasn’t yet happened, other than a small surge in January,” Ferris said.

“We’d like to thank the community for dong their part, following the health protocols and staying at home, which kept the number of cases at the hospital way down compared to other areas.”

Bustard said another problem nurses and hospital staff across the province, and elsewhere, have been facing since the pandemic began is people coming to the hospitals and claiming the pandemic is not real.

RELATED STORY: B.C. NURSES ISSUE PLEA FOR ALL TO FOLLOW HEALTH ORDERS AS HOSPITALIZATIONS SPIKE

She said the pandemic deniers claimed that the hospital staff were “sheep following lies”.

“I saw this at the West Shore Urgent Primary Care Unit in Langford when I was working there, and I’ve seen it at the CDH as well,” Bustard said.

“Security had to be called sometimes. Then there are those who refuse to wear masks or answer questions about any possible exposure to the virus, and some even throw things at staff when they get angry.”

Kendall said some nurses couldn’t handle the stress and pressure during the past year and have taken stress leave, while others have opted to go into public health where many became involved with administering the vaccines and have less interactions with sick people.

As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the community gets closer to herd immunity, the nurses are giving a sigh of relief, although they are wary of what the future will bring.

Kendall said she thinks it’s unlikely the virus will be completely eliminated, but it will be much more manageable in the future.

“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that another pandemic doesn’t start anytime soon,” she said.

Ferris said the nurses and the other professions at the hospital appreciate the efforts made by the provincial Public Heath Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to educate the public and contain the pandemic in B.C.

“Dr. Henry was suddenly thrown in a position that she didn’t expect to be in and she did well,” she said.

“What she said was heartfelt. We’re now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It will be just a little longer before we finally achieve herd immunity and, hopefully, return to normal.”

RELATED STORY: ABBOTSFORD NURSE AT ‘BREAKING POINT’, PLEADS WITH PUBLIC TO TAKE COVID-19 SERIOUSLY

But Ferris said she believes that some practices at the hospital developed during the pandemic won’t be going anywhere soon.

“We’ve learned some lessons about the need for personal protection equipment due to our heightened awareness of infection control,” she said.

“I think that, from now on, hospital staff will always wear a mask when interacting with patients.”

Kendall said the Cowichan community has done an amazing job so far during the pandemic, and offered thanks for all the support the hospital received during the past year.

She also questioned the wisdom of just honouring nurses during this week and acknowledging their heroic efforts during the health crisis.

“It should be shared with all health care workers and be called Health Care Week,” Kendall said.

“The physicians, housekeepers and everyone else should be celebrated too. We are all in this together.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Healthcare

Just Posted

The Crofton Pool will reopen July 2. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Lifeguard services returning to Fuller Lake Park, Crofton Pool

Summer schedule starting after hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Most Read