Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, the health care system has been challenged to provide patient care and services to our people and communities. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a significant toll on health care workers, forcing them to endure many challenges and hardships. Over the past three years, our front-line staff has worked tirelessly and risen to the occasion during the many waves and outbreaks to provide exceptional patient care. To assist in relief efforts, casual staff, and retired professionals signed up to help front-line staff provide patient care, set up vaccine clinics, and assist in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout through numerous communities in the Western region.
Two retirees that answered the call were Registered Nurse, Juanita Jacobs, and Administrative Support, Deborah Denny.
Juanita Jacobs worked with Western Health for 26 years. Before working with Western Health, Juanita worked as a nurse at the Janeway in St. John’s for 9 years. Juanita returned to the western region to work as a vaccinator at COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Juanita says she “felt compelled to help and “felt helpless watching the pandemic unfold.”
“I was relieved to be part of the vaccination rollout to help contain and slow down the virus,” Juanita said.
Answering the call to help is something that Juanita is very familiar with. Throughout her career, she has participated in various international mission trips, including working on a medical ship to Papua, New Guinea, and working with the Salvation Army to help build and repair properties that serve children and seniors in the southern Caribbean countries. Juanita says that returning to work at the vaccine clinics has made her feel valued, and she enjoys working on a team that shares a common goal. When asked if she would return to work again if called upon, she said “I am always here to help, and I enjoy experiencing the patient and staff connection again.” Juanita also likes to broaden her experience outside nursing. Since retiring, she has worked as a shuttle driver and part of a landscape maintenance crew.
Deborah Denny returned to work with Western Health at COVID-19 vaccine clinics and various Western Health sites for general administrative support roles such as data entry, registering clients, and client booking for vaccines and testing. Deborah worked for Western Health for 20 years as a ward clerk, most recently in the Emergency department.
“The most surprising thing about coming back to work is all the wonderful, hardworking, and dedicated people that I’ve met,” Deborah said.
Deborah feels that working with other health professionals again has helped her make new friendships. Deborah’s favorite hobby is knitting, and she loves sending her knitted items to her colleagues and her new friends that she made during the pandemic. Since retiring, Deborah has spent most of her time at her cabin with her family and grandchildren.
Juanita and Deborah are just two of the many staff who came out of retirement to help during the pandemic. Each Western Health staff member who worked tirelessly over the pandemic is much appreciated, and we celebrate them for their commitment, dedication, and hard work.
Kayla Brake, Community Health Manager
Benjamin Kennedy lives at Bonne Bay Health Centre (BBHC) in the Long Term Care Unit (LTC). The 34-year-old spent his career working offshore as a sailor in the Canadian Arctic. In the fall of 2015, Ben suffered an aneurysm that left him hospitalized, unable to move or communicate, and with very little hope in terms of making a significant recovery.
There is something about nature that brings people together. Conversations around growing things create a bond of caring and sharing. Getting your hands dirty is a bonus.
There is a lot Bonnie Chaulk cannot put into words.
How does a Registered Nurse from Newfoundland Labrador explain the three weeks she helped strangers cope with a COVID-19 outbreak in Ontario? How does she write about the camaraderie that developed between strangers? The suffering of patients, and the look in their eyes when a front line heath care worker shared a moment of kindness.
The simple truth is that she cannot.
Jodie Perry and Joy Green were the first Public Health Nurses to participate in Western Health’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“This is the most powerful and rewarding experience I have ever encountered,” says Perry, a 2001 graduate of Western Regional School of Nursing (WRSON). “As Public Health Nurses, we reach different members of our community, from young families to senior citizens. We see firsthand how this pandemic is impacting everyone, and what a world without public health and vaccines looks like. This past year has shown us what is truly important in life.”
In High School, Christine Simms did not know what she wanted to do for a career. She enjoyed science courses and helping in the lab as a Biology prefect. Fortunately, a university professor working at the High School asked her what she was interested in pursuing in University. She knew she wanted to work with the deaf and hard of hearing and he recommended audiology.
Shawn Cooper grew up in Fortune, Newfoundland, and attended nursing school at The Grace General Hospital in St. John’s, graduating in 1996. Shortly after, he moved to Gander where he practiced for 16 years in ICU/Emergency Department. While working as a site coordinator, Shawn was encouraged to continue his education. Since he missed having direct contact with patients, he started thinking about the option of becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP). Shawn decided to enroll in the post RN Nurse Practitioner program at MUN through distance in 2009.
The Parkinson Society of Newfoundland, in partnership with Western Health, has been delivering a speech education program in the Western region since 2009 and the most recent one was held this fall. Throughout the program, participants learn how Parkinson’s disease can impact speaking, eating, swallowing and communication. The program is led by a Speech-Language Pathologist who provides strategies for participants to improve their speech, communication and swallowing behaviours in the group sessions.
With October being Occupational Therapy month, Western Health is featuring one of our own Occupational Therapists who has been making many positive contributions to the health and well being of patients, clients and residents in the Bonne Bay/ Port Saunders area for many years. Continue reading Highlighting the profession of Occupational Therapy at Western Health
Although Mrs. Margaret Organ has been retired from teaching for more than 20 years, it is obvious to anyone who knows her that her teaching career meant a lot to her. The Long Term Care resident at Bonne Bay Health Centre was thrilled to visit students in the classroom this past spring. Mrs. Organ very much enjoyed her afternoon with Kindergarten and Grade 1 students at Gros Morne Academy.