Two years of pandemic: the expertise of nurses finally recognized

Two years of pandemic mie: the expertise of nurses finally recognized

Rinda Hartner, head of the intensive functional rehabilitation unit at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal

“I believe that COVID-19 has welded health professionals, both doctors, nurses and nursing assistants, ”says the head of intensive rehabilitation at the University Institute of Geriatrics of Montreal, Rinda Hartner. Two years after the start of the pandemic, nurses believe that the health crisis has also brought positive benefits to the health sector.

“One thing that is going to stay, I think, is medical co-management, which is working together; doctors, nurses and nursing assistants as a team. This pandemic has allowed us to remove the barriers between the different units,” says Rinda Hartner.

“Now we are giving ourselves the chance to set up projects and do trial and error” , explains the team leader, convinced that this way of working is there for good, because it is for her a “winning formula”.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic. Two days later, it was Prime Minister François Legault's turn to announce a state of health emergency throughout Quebec. In the weeks that followed, the care settings were going to be overwhelmed by an evil for which they were not prepared.

“At the beginning, there was a lot of stress which was mainly linked to the unknown . Both the teams in the field and the management teams felt helpless in the face of this new virus. It was a tsunami,” says Rinda Hartner.

The recognized expertise of nurses

Jenny Ulloa, head of the intensive care unit at the Hôpital de Verdun, is also of the opinion that work management is now better adapted to reality. “Decisions are increasingly made from the bottom up. During the different waves, you had to react quickly and be in solution mode. I think we've seen great results by listening to people on the floor.”

With the concern for the well-being of her patients, it’s the hope that the advances made in the field will be sustainable that motivates the nurse, despite the fatigue. “During the pandemic, we have seen the importance of the psychological support we need on the ground to support healthcare workers,” said Jenny Ulloa.

Two years of pandemic: nursing expertise finally recognized

Jenny Ulloa, head of the intensive care unit at the Verdun Hospital

This pandemic, and the media attention it will have received, have highlighted the role and expertise of nurses as professionals. We are moving away from the time when the nurse was considered a “doctor's assistant”, think the two women.

“We are one of the keys to the health system. I think we are starting to be respected as such,” argues Jenny Ulloa, alluding to the provincial government's desire to improve their conditions, as well as bonuses offered to recognize their efforts during the pandemic.

“The war is not yet won”

Two years later, health professionals know better how to react to the waves of the coronavirus. “Now morale is good, because we are learning to live with COVID-19 in the way we treat,” says the manager of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.

In intensive care at the Verdun Hospital, Jenny Ulloa, is also of the opinion that the morale of the troops has already been lower. The nurse, however, tempers the assertions of her colleague. “With each wave there is ambiguity, stress and new challenges added. It is more and more difficult. It's true that we end up getting used to the situation, but it's in spite of ourselves.”

If she hopes that the worst is behind her, the team leader is not rocking of illusions in the face of the possibility of other waves. “The war is not yet won,” says Ms. Ulloa.

However, she hopes that the journey and the difficulties overcome will not be in vain. “Our motto in Quebec is “I remember”. We have a duty to remember and I hope that, collectively,  we will draw the necessary conclusions,” says the nurse. For those who were at the forefront of this tragedy, it is impossible to forget what they experienced.

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