Skip to main content

COVID Chronicles : Adventure turned to fear wondering if I did the right thing going into the unknown

Karen, Geriatric Nurse
I have been a Geriatric Nurse in the Emergency Department at Headwaters for the past 12 years. I help older adults live at home longer, prevent any unnecessary visits/admissions to the hospital and reduce prolonged stays.

In Wave One, my workload declined significantly as older adult visits to the Emergency Department dropped. I was redeployed to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre before it was transitioned indoors, where I screened and swabbed patients of all age groups from 2-99+.

I was so eager to help that I didn’t think twice about the new adventure I was about to partake in, but things became very real as the number of people coming in for testing started to explode. My sense of adventure turned to fear, wondering if I did the right thing going into an unknown situation.

Yes, I was a nurse and needed, but this was something huge and I had a family at home to keep safe.

It was inspiring seeing different disciplines come together under the Dufferin County Emergency Management team, working in totally different capacities. We had to learn to trust each other and that didn’t take long. We became united, we became a family.

I worked through conditions that I never thought I would in my career – torrential rain, snow, sleet, tornado warnings, extreme heat – all while under a tent designed for a wedding, with industrial heaters.

It had been quite an emotional rollercoaster; there were uptimes, fun times with lots of laughs, scary times and times of feeling deflated and mentally exhausted. I felt completely responsible for making the people who came through the tent feel safe and tried to make their visit as enjoyable as possible, but at times I felt that I was not making a difference.

I felt accepted by my peers in the tent but then isolated from people in the community as they were leery of my new position in the thick of the virus.

Just before Christmas I returned to my role as a Geriatric Nurse which was a period of adjustment. I missed my position in the Assessment Centre and all the people I met. I felt like I was starting fresh again.

There has been an influx in the number of older adult visits related to social isolation, physical and mental deconditioning and a decline in coping due the pandemic and its restrictions. My focus is on finding innovative ways to support, educated and advocate for the older adult population.

I am very thankful to be a nurse in this time of instability; to help make a difference in peoples’ lives.