Our Town

Our Town

Patrice Gordon: Rossland nurse back to work

the Rossland native was cleared to return home following two months of fighting the Ebola virus in West Africa.

After one week in training, four weeks in a treatment centre and three weeks under medical observation, Patrice Gordon is back in the comfort of her Chilcotin home.

Last Wednesday, the Rossland native was cleared to return home after developing flu-like symptoms following two months of fighting the Ebola virus in West Africa.

And even though she is a long way from Sierra Leone, her mind is with those at the treatment centre.

“I am all the way over here in Canada, but I feel so close to those people and feel their pain,” she told the Trail Times on Friday morning.

When she first arrived back in Canada in December, Gordon was required to stay close to the hospital in Kelowna and avoid large groups of people, missing the holidays with her family.

“When you consider that Ebola is transmitted by exchange of bodily fluids, it was about not sharing cups, or eating utensils, that kind of thing,” she said.

“I could go grocery shopping to get food and I spent lots of time going for walks on the beach, but it was way too much time in a town that is not my home. It was over Christmas and New Year’s, so it was tough.”

During her stay in Kelowna, Gordon started feeling ill, with a fever and achy muscles, she didn’t worry that she had caught the disease; her concern was what others would be thinking.

“It was more about the anxiety over what kind of hullabaloo it would cause,” she said. “I had a few intellectual thoughts about if I had Ebola, but I never had any moments of panic or fear. I had so much confidence in how careful I had been in Sierra Leone.”

Gordon was tested for Ebola three times over 21 days, and all tests came back negative.

Once the B.C. Ministry of Health issued a press release about her symptoms and testing, the media frenzy began.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was shielded by a lot of it by a media person for Red Cross. She was fabulous. She told me I didn’t have to talk to anyone, but I wanted to talk to people.”

The message she wanted to get to the media was how relatable the victims of Ebola are to Canadians at home.

“I wanted to be able to put some faces on the story instead of talking about a virus on the other side of the planet, she said. “I want people to understand that these are happy little children being stricken. There is the 22-year-old university student or the 18-year-old who is working with his father fixing shoes and they are dying.”

Just before speaking with the Trail Times, Gordon had received news that the disease had also killed one of the health care providers she had worked with in Kenema.

“He was the first Red Cross person that has been affected since the mission started in April 2014,” she said. “I am just stunned. It is like one big family there. I am just waiting to hear more and sending my deep sadness and love over to them. He committed the last four months of his life to working six days a week looking after his fellow countrymen and now he has died.”

There is still suffering going on in Sierra Leone, but for Gordon, it is time to heal herself after the emotional roller coaster of the last two months.

“I know that I haven’t processed it yet,” she said. “But, I came home to my partner and two furry, warm puppies that are so happy to see me and that has been the greatest therapy a person can have.”

She doesn’t have much time for that therapy, though. Gordon is heading right back to work, taking care of her patients in the Chilcotin.

“I have been away from my patients for two months and I miss everyone,” she said. “Being back and working with patients in the community that is familiar to me, those things are also healing.”

Despite the hard work, the loss, being away from family and a media frenzy, she says that she is already planning a trip to go back.

“I am looking at April or May to head back over there,” she said. “I have been thinking about it every day since I got back, bit I am really starting to think about the impact on my family, friends, patients and everyone else. It is a lot to balance, but I can’t imagine not going back.”

Just Posted

Photo: Trail Times
Trail RCMP start June by nabbing impaired drivers

Latest brief from the Trail and Greater District police

“This is very costly to replace and it seems that Rossland is getting more and more theft and vandalism happening, which is really unfortunate,” says the commission’s Michelle Fairbanks. Photo: Submitted
Two plaques stolen from Rossland heritage square

The plaques were located at Washington and Columbia by the Olaus statue

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

That night, a peace came over my heart that has remained from that day to this, 36 years later.

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters block Castlegar’s main street for 24 hours

Members of Extinction Rebellion stayed overnight in downtown Castlegar

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Most Read