The University Hospital of Northern B.C. was dealing with challenging staffing issues in December, especially when Christmas holidays approached.
This normally busy hospital was feeling increasingly stretched as the number of patients with COVID-19 continued to grow.
In some departments, nurses were taking more shifts that they would have liked in order to keep up with demand.
Many of them were in need of some time off to recharge and be with their families over the holidays.
When Northern Health reached out for support and asked if nurses in other health authorities might be willing to to help, a group of four intensive care unit (ICU) nurses answered the call.
One of the people to respond was Sarah Bullock, a nurse from Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail.
“I think we are all in this together,” says Bullock. “If our hospital was hit by COVID and we needed support, I would hope skilled nurses would be there for us too.”
“Since the pandemic started, I have felt a sense of camaraderie with nurses across the world,” Bullock added. “Our community has been fortunate, and I wanted to support those fellow nurses who were struggling under difficult circumstances.”
Like most health-care workers, nurses are experiencing the pandemic in both their professional and personal lives.
“I’m really proud of the professionalism and generosity these nurses showed by responding to the call for support from our neighbors to the north” says Interior Health’s Crystal White.
“Sarah Bullock, Taryn Kehler, Taaryn Miller, and Mallory Shofield have reminded me that there are so many ways we can be there for each other.”
Since the pandemic began, the critical care network has been busy supporting and coordinating the ICU capacity to meet the need of communities across B.C. health authorities.
“The hours have been long and at times tiring, but when I see nurses travel away from home over the holidays to support another community, it puts my own efforts into perspective,” said White.
“These nurses personify my idea of a frontline hero.”
When asked for her thoughts on how others might show support, Sarah Bullock is quick to say “I think we all need to be kind to one another. Everyone has their reasons for doing what they are doing and I think most of us are doing our best to play by the rules and survive these crazy times.”
Crystal White is the director of Interior Health’s critical care network and trauma services network.