I was redeployed from the Family Health Team to the Emergency Department at St. Michael’s, where nurse practitioners were responsible for notifying patients of their COVID-19 results after discharge. At the time, like everyone else, we’d never heard of COVID-19 so being responsible for that was nerve-wracking and stressful. Many patients would ask me questions and I wasn’t sure I was giving the right information. They’d ask questions like, does this mean my family is sick? What’s the treatment? It was really hard.
I was also watching the same news as everyone else and still going into work. I experienced such cognitive dissonance – the government is saying stay home, but I still had to pack my lunch and go to work every day. It’s like seeing messages everywhere that say ‘don’t touch the stove, it’s hot. But YOU can touch it. Here’s a glove; you’ll be fine!’. Knowing I can do something to help people during this time has helped me come into work every day. When I went back to the Family Health Team in May, my role as part of a wellness program was to call patients to check on their well-being and offer income support for things like groceries if needed. It was amazing to see how thankful and grateful they were. We’re going to continue to do wellness calls on top of preventative care. Through this experience, we’ve been able to develop new guidelines for what we can catch in our patients before they need to call us.
When I studied to be a nurse I never thought I’d go be working through a global pandemic.
My key takeaway from this pandemic will be to fight for what we know is right. During the pandemic, we were fluid and we were able to mobilize and protect patients against COVID-19. We can do the same thing for other important social justice areas like the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism initiatives. When we started working on anti-racism initiatives, we were able to mobilize over Zoom. We can make huge changes with limited resources. Complacency isn’t an answer anymore.
Chantal Sorhaindo is a primary health care nurse practitioner at St. Michael’s Hospital⠀
As told to Selma Al-Samarrai. Photos by Katie Cooper. This interview has been edited and condensed.