Debra, Activation Assistant for the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence, woke up one morning in late March with a cough. Working in a long-term care home she was aware of the risks at the time with COVID, but hadn’t considered that she herself could have contracted the virus. She called in sick and went directly to an Assessment Centre for testing.
She did exactly what she was supposed to do, she waited at home for her results, where she quarantined in isolation. Debra felt guilty for being away from work, awaiting results she was sure would be negative, while her residents and staff needed her support. A few days later, she was shocked to discover she was COVID-19 positive.
Debra was concerned, not only for her own well-being, but for the residents in her care at Providence Healthcare. She couldn’t help but worry about whether she unknowingly passed it on to the people who relied on her to keep them safe.
“When I found out that I didn’t spread the virus, I was so relieved,” shared Debra.
She tried to make the most of her time in quarantine: she caught up on her to do list, watched movies, and video chatted daily with a close friend and her sisters in Northern Ontario.
Weeks later and after two negative COVID tests, Debra was cleared to return to work. After having been in quarantine for nearly one month, she was nervous about leaving home and felt embarrassed by what had happened to her. Debra wasn’t sure if she would be treated differently by colleagues after having and recovering from COVID. “Instead, everyone was so supportive and happy to see me,” she said.
When Debra returned to work, she quickly learned the new COVID-19 protocols, as they had been modified to keep up with evolving needs and safety measures required for residents. She also worked quickly to adapt the programs and activities to ensure that residents were engaged, happy and safe during this difficult time.
While away from work, all she wanted to do was check in on the residents, or as she refers to them, her friends.
"I wanted to bring lightheartedness and joy to the residents, so I painted a smile on my mask,” said Debra. She also organized an indoor celebration where staff wore costumes, played drums, and danced while holding up signs with positive messages. Staff walked down every hallway in the Houses to ensure that each resident could see the parade from their rooms. “We showed residents that we loved them and though we were apart, we still cared."
Her work with the residents is so much more than a job to her, it’s a vocation. She believes this is where she’s supposed to be, and more importantly, this is where she wants to be. “I love my time at Providence, with my friends, the residents. They are in my heart. I am lucky to have them,” she said.
Debra is the definition of a Healthcare Hero.
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