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National Nurses Week: Honouring nurses

This display was created by community members in front of Lakeridge Health during the start of the pandemic as a way of supporting and saying thank you to frontline workers.

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges since it began in March 2020, including the impact it’s had on the healthcare system, and those frontline workers who have had to deal with the crisis day in and day out.

In honour of National Nurses Week, Colleen Wilkinson, Chief Nursing Executive for Lakeridge Health, is recognizing all the nurses and the hard work they do and have had to do, specifically throughout the pandemic.

“We appreciate everything that they have been doing… all of the hard work and the perseverance they have put into this,” she says. “They are endlessly dedicated to providing the very best in patient care, and we thank the sincerely for that.”

Wilkinson says the pandemic has, without a doubt, added some unique challenges for nurses.

“We’ve been challenged more than we ever have been before,” she says, noting many challenges are unique and persistent during the pandemic.

She says nurses are working very long hours and many have fears of becoming ill themselves, at least since the outset of the pandemic.

Nurses are also challenged with needing to be, at times, redeployed to other areas of higher acuity and higher need for nurse staffing, she adds.

However, despite all the challenges, Wilkinson says it’s without a doubt her “amazing colleagues” that keep her smiling every day.

“Everybody is so dedicated to providing the best possible patient care, and finding innovate ways to continue to provide that care to patients and to adapt and respond to the challenges that the pandemic brings for all of us in healthcare,” she says.

While healthcare staff continue to face the challenges of the pandemic, Wilkinson says since vaccinations have started, there has been hope among staff that the vaccinations will bring a decrease, or even the end, of the pandemic.

“At this point, with this very difficult wave that we’ve been going through, wave three, our providers are tired. Certainly they feel the length of this pandemic, as do many people, and they are no exception,” she says, adding they have been caring for “very, very sick patients, and many more ICU patients.”

She notes Lakeridge Health is no exception to the patients they’re seeing being admitted, which during this third wave, are younger age groups.

“We do still see people of all ages, but we are seeing a greater proportion of younger patients at this time,” she says.

As the vaccination rollout continues, Wilkinson says it’s also important the community continues to do their part, noting they’ve already been doing a great job.

“First and foremost, we want to thank the community for their continued support,” she says. “I would urge them to continue to be vigilant and not let our guard down.”

She says everyone’s support is needed more now more than ever and that community members need to continue to adhere to the public health measures.

“They need to make sure they are staying at home and only doing the essential activities they need so we can continue to decrease the numbers across the province and across the region.”

Lakeridge Health is working in partnership with Durham Region Public Health for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine based on the province’s three-phase rollout plan.

Wilkinson says the vaccine rollout in Durham Region is going well in relation to the vaccine supply coming into the region.

“We are effectively and efficiently giving all of the vaccine that we receive each week, so I consider that to be a great success,” she continues.

She notes success in also having completed the vaccination of all long-term care residents and regulated retirement home residents.

“We consider that a big turning point in terms of outbreaks from those facilities, so we’re very proud of that success.”

Wilkinson says Lakeridge Health continues to work on ways to make sure that the increasing supply coming into the region is allocated effectively and equitably across all Durham municipalities.