As I reflect over the past year, and my career as a nurse, I can see that COVID has dramatically changed my life and relationships.
During the first few months of the pandemic, community healthcare shifted its assessment methods to minimizing close contact with patients. Some services may have been impacted throughout homecare as staffing shortages increased, forcing patients requiring care to be waitlisted. That being said, community nurses continued to triage, assess and support patients in any capacity possible.
About a year ago, I shifted from my career as a rapid response nurse to a casual RN in pandemic response (mass immunizations). The opportunity to vaccinate the public introduced me to amazing people, and a whole new scope of practice. That was temporary, which can be seen as a very positive change because that means most of the population base is vaccinated. While one door closes another opens, and I have returned to working full time in the community as a rapid response nurse where I am an integral part of community healthcare.
Fast-forward to one year later, our roles have expanded and our work load has changed. We are taking on more complex patients, and the age range of the patients we see has expanded significantly, reflecting the needs of the community. With these changes additional education is encouraged and a special level of direct provisional care required. Although it seems like communities are returning to some sort of normalcy, patients continue to wait for tests and appointments as the system has become even more backlogged and wait times increase.
Certainly, the negative impact ripples through many of my colleagues. Our profession makes up a large proportion affected by COVID. The numbers in health care are changing dramatically, and we are in more of a health care crisis than ever. Just yesterday, I was having a conversation with a mother about her daughter who is leaving the nursing profession after only four years, because she is constantly working short-staffed, without breaks, and has been put in situations where her safety (and the patient’s) have been compromised. Sadly, this is becoming a common theme, and we are losing nurses at an exponential rate.
The pandemic has brought about some positive changes, and my work-life balance has improved. I have learned to place more emphasis on the needs of my family and the importance of spending quality time together. Personally, I have also come to enjoy a lack of social obligations, and no longer feel the pressure of saying yes all the time.
Uncertain as to what the next year holds, I hope we see more change in a positive light. The pandemic has made our community stronger, and in some ways, more unified than ever. There has been a growing trend to support each other and continue to move forward as a whole, one positive result of very challenging times.
Jayne Serluca was a Local Voice in June, 2021, when she had joined Niagara Region’s immunization program to
vaccinate people in our community.