We look forward to hearing from you!
1 Belvedere Crt-1207
Brampton, ON Canada
[Note, video in beginning is degraded due to an initial poor connection]
May 6, 2020
Gail Donner: Thanks for joining us on this first of these nursing chats. Mary and I are very pleased to be doing this, I'm Gail and, you know who Mary is, I think most of you know that we've been doing nursing work and consulting and coaching and career planning and development for close to 30 years.
We wanted to do something to try to be helpful to everyone who's working at this particular time, whether people are working in the frontline or not, this affects everybody who's a nurse. So. Who's, healthcare, worker. So we were looking for, something I thing we can do.
We thought maybe these forums might be of help. So that's how nursing chats came to be. A little bit of our way to give nurses an opportunity to talk to and support each other and tell their story.
So I think before we get started, maybe it would help if everybody just give a quick little. Who I am and what I do. And a little, why you decided to join, this evening or what you'd like this evening to be about? Just something to kind of, center us and you together in this. So do you want to start, Claudine?
Claudine Bennett: Sure. so I'm Claudine Bennett, and I normally am the manager, a manager in public health in the family health division. And my portfolio includes a whole bunch of stuff to do with, healthy eating and physical activity in their early years, as well as support for, breastfeeding mothers. And so that's what I normally. do. but I've been in public health for 20 years, and before that I was a labor and delivery nurse for 10. So I'm a 31 or so years as a nurse. but on March 3rd, I was asked if I would be the chief of logistics for the COVID-19 response at peel public health. And, I just. I think it's kind of a neat role and I thought other people might be interested in learning more about what's happening behind the scenes in public health, as well as how we can really stretch ourselves with, wisdom and experience and nursing, education. and background to do things like be the chief of logistics for a huge pandemic response for the second largest health unit, in the province.
So that's what I thought I would like to chat about today.
Gail Donner: Terrific. Welcome and glad. Glad to have you. How about you Georgina?
Georgina MacDougall: So I'm, I'm a nurse at sick kids. I started in infectious diseases at sick kids in 89 and I'm still in infectious diseases, but I'm in the ambulatory setting for the past 19 years, working in the HIV program and worked very closely with a lot of your nurses in peel public health.
Gail Donner: Cathy. Welcome.
Cathy Szabo: Thanks. I'm, I'm the president and CEO of Providence care and, we have a long-term care home with 243 beds. We have a hospital that has 270 beds, but we've increased our capacity for COVID surge. So we now have an additional 203 beds. So now our hospital has. 473 beds from 270 and we run 22 community programs, mostly in the mental health world, but we have supportive housing, adult living.
We have, adult day programs. We partner and manage something called Oasis, which is a senior living, a congregate setting with apartment buildings where we have a coordinator that's there that keeps people healthy and keeps them out of the healthcare system. That's the goal there. And we also are responsible for the hospice in our neck of the woods.
So in our hospital, here, we are the only subacute, non-acute hospital in our region or regional center for, mental health, rehab, complex care and palliative care. Prior to that, I spent a good part of my career, probably close to, ah, I want to say close to 40 years. being in the community. So I worked at Saint Elizabeth health care for about 20 years, and then I ran CCACs.
I ran the Peel CAC. I was the first CEO, and I, when I was at Saint Eliz, I was in peel. Plus I was moved around a bit by the ministry. So in the end I ran five CCACs, putting them together, taking them apart, rebuilding them, taking pieces of this or that one, and and making it work for whatever government of the day wanted, whatever direction it would be.
So I've been doing that.
Gail Donner: Great, and welcome to you too, Cathy. So welcome everybody. I think. I'll put it this way. We have a small but mighty group with a lot of experience and expertise. So I'm looking forward to the conversation. I'm, we, we have until nine o'clock, as you all know.
So just short of an hour now, and the time is yours. I'm going to turn it over to Mary to just help us get started and look forward to, a good discussion.
Mary Wheeler: Thanks Gail. I guess my opening question, and if it's, I'm going to direct it to Claudine first, but it's a question I would ask, both later, Georgina and Cathy, that question, how are you. And the reason I'm asking, how are you, is the Claudine and I reconnected through LinkedIn? She's part of my, group and I have been reading her posts and she talked about the job.
Oh. She had to manage and how it was affecting her personally. And so when we put these nursing chats out, Claudine was the first one to come and said, I'd really like to, to talk about it. So
I, even though there's all of us on the call, the question is you to Claudine is really how are you, what's going on?
And what is your story? And, and I think what's important for everybody, we're taping this. So other nurses at a later time can, can hear it. Cause I think the stories and your experience are are really key right now, so I really be curious, how are you doing, Claudine now?
Claudine Bennett: So, do I feel like I'm doing, doing pretty good?
I feel like I'm, you know, was took on a role and sort of was asked to do a role that, I knew nothing about. And, and really was, I would say at the beginning, kind of trepidatious about whether I would be able to be successful in that role or not. You know, that little bit of self doubt you have as you get piloted into something that you weren't expecting. but I feel it's going well. I have to say that though. I think I put this in a recent LinkedIn post. Actually, I'm working harder than I've ever worked in my life. I have never worked this hard. I've never worked, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 13 hour days in a
and, so it is exhausting. And I, and I'm doing my best to, you know, have some self care opportunities, go for walks, talk to friends. But honestly, there's not a lot of time. So, I recharge when I can, but I feel so committed to this work and I feel like if. If I can, if I, if I can do this job to.
Yeah. You know, help the public health health effort and to keep people safe and to save people from getting COVID-19, then it's work that I must do.
Mary Wheeler: Okay.
Claudine Bennett: Yeah.
Mary Wheeler: So, also you manage, if I recall a stat, there's 70 staff that you're also, have responsibility for. That's what I was getting in your feed. So how are they doing?
What's going on there?
Claudine Bennett: So it's, so, it's such a strange situation to find myself in because I'm, I'm a very high touch manager, so, in my normal, every day. Goings on in my family health division, I know all my staff. I know their names, I know about their kids. I know all kinds of stuff about them.
I talk to them over, in the pods at work. And right now I have 70 people under me, many of whom I've never worked with before, and some who I've never even met. Hmm. because it's a, it's a big operation, this logistics work. And I have, some really great supervisors and managers who are working sort of, in my, in my different branches.
And so, they're doing the higher touch work with the, with the front line staff or the people who are doing all the different tasks and responsibilities. But, it's just really strange for me not to even know who, who, a lot of them are.
Mary Wheeler: Mm,
Claudine Bennett: yeah.
Mary Wheeler: So let, so why don't we listen to everybody's brief story and then we'll come back to, to, to open it up to a larger conversation.
So I'm going to go next to Georgina because she was the person that contacted me for sick kids, and I'm sure she didn't know what she was getting in. She asked to be an observer. I'd love to be an observer. And I said around the pandemic, and I said, well, why do you want to be? Why don't you come on and join us?
And so immediately. You said, I'm, I'm going to come on on as a participant. So again, with that, with that sense of courage, not knowing what was going to happen, I really love to know a little bit more about what you're doing, Georgina, and how. so where Claudine's out in the community, you're now in, in acute care environment, what, what's, what's that like for you?
And to help help us understand that?
Georgina MacDougall: So I had wanted to be an observer because I was feeling quite disconnected from the front lines and, wanted to, Be here to support my colleagues in nursing, who are out there, who, who I feel are out there, you know, braving this, this pandemic, I have to say, working at sick kids, as I said earlier.
It hasn't been impacted by COVID. sick kids is highly organized, professional, hospital. And so there's lots of, changes that we've had to, embrace. but feel very safe going to the hospital. as I mentioned earlier, I work in an outpatient setting, working with a highly marginalized and disenfranchised group of people with, H having HIV.
so I find a lot of my time is spent. convincing them that it's safe
to come to their clinic
appointments. it is something that we, we've continued to see our patients, regularly, and using my trust relationship that I've built with families. to convince them it's okay to come in and that it's safe.
And yet at the same time, having this trepidation.
How safe is it?
You know, I, you're, you're wearing both hats. You're the professional. So at work I do feel safe, but then you come home, you're bombarded with the media, you're bombarded with my family's concerns for my safety. My husband in the first couple of weeks said, if you want to retire, I'm okay.
Like you can step down if you want. And I'm like. I wasn't even, even like, that hadn't even crossed my mind because I didn't feel unsafe. so the whole time you're, and you got all this mixed messaging of wear a mask, I don't wear a mask distance. Don't stay home, come out. You're just. And trying to field all these questions.
I actually had a family tell me that one of the symptoms of COVID was a GI, and I said, no, no, it's all respiratory, you know, in the early weeks. And she's like, no,
I've heard it can be GI symptoms. And I'm like, what do I know? I felt like a novice again, I felt like I hadn't, I'm in infectious disease nurses for 30 years and I had no idea.
I just, I felt like I was. Just, learning as everybody else is. Emotionally I felt, it's been quite a roller coaster, because as I said, I, what if I'm wrong? What if I'm telling people it's safe to come and they get sick or, and so you feel like. Yeah, I, I've been up and down and I'm feeling overwhelmed with that responsibility and just managing the change.
Mary Wheeler: Well, similar to what Claudine talked about around this high learning curve. So people that have, you know, even all of us on this call, supposedly experts, but at this point in time, what I'm hearing you say, Georgina and what Claudine said is like, I'm, it's the change, like how it's managing this huge learning curve.
Georgina MacDougall:, I think initially I was feeling like, okay, it's the calm before the storm. I'm waiting for the flood Gates to open, and, and, and you're like, pensive, you know? And then when it wasn't happening, I was like, okay, well, where can I go and help?
You know, I feel like I should be doing more. And so, yeah.
And so then when you're, and then when you're getting all these accolades from the community at large of, you know. frontline workers are heroes. And I'm like, I haven't done anything like I,
I want, you know, I felt like, like, no, not
me. It's, it's other people, right.
Mary Wheeler: But you know, that's, that's how you're feeling.
But from just what you're describing, what you do and that family who you know, was even describing to you what some of the symptoms were or the cohort that you're working with. I bet in a small way, you might not realize it, but you're there really supporting them in a very crazy time also. Yeah.
Claudine Bennett: And you're going to work and you're going to work.
Georgina MacDougall: Yeah. Right. Yeah. And I think that's, for me is a saving grace too. I think, you know, getting out of the house and getting away from the television and going
like minded people are functioning and trying to do their day to day staff is, is definitely a godsend.
Claudine Bennett: Yeah.
Mary Wheeler: Thanks Georgina.
Cathy Szabo: So well, it is an emotional roller coaster. having worked through SARS and I was lucky enough to be the lead for the community on SARS. And now into COVID. COVID is a lot scarier. It's a lot more like the wind. You don't know where it's going to show up. We've had four outbreaks, two in the hospital, and two in our longterm care home, and our patients are really vulnerable.
So we wanted to be, in a position a that we never were positive, but that didn't happen. But then once we were, how did we stop the spread? I don't think anybody's slept for two weeks. We found out very quickly that this is a team sport. Our public health department is unbelievable. And you know, we have a lot of, Support and a lot of praise for public health in this part of the world. When they closed the restaurants, they took all their food inspectors and turn them into nursing home inspectors, and they all went into all of our longterm care homes along with a nurse manager. And starting teaching them all about infection prevention and control and what to look for.
And then our public health, chief medical officer of health Karen Moore had a weekly teleconferences with all of the medical advisors to make sure that they were having conversations with the residents in longterm care around advanced directives and making sure they understood infection prevention and control.
And Karen's been with us, you know, right. By our side all the way along our chief medical officer of health, the, the, the rollercoaster that comes from outbreaks are, are the ones about, making sure that you can stand up in front of all of your staff and say, we have enough equipment. We have enough, like gowns, masks, gloves, the right kind of masks.
We're right here with you. If you get tired, we'll, you know. Put in other staff. Our. I have to say that our environmental staff. Have been absolutely outstanding working double shifts coming in on their days off protecting the residents and the staff. Our longterm care home, I think was built in 1890 we've got an application into the ministry to move to another site.
And we were actually at hope to have a shovel in the ground by now, but with the change of government and other things, COVID being one of them. It's kind of got in the way of it, but our longterm care home sparkles some days and it's, you know, 110 years old. Like there's just the pride of, of work in, it's people that have been working at Providence care have been here for more than 50% of our staff have been here for more than 10 years.
So their commitment, dedication for serving the vulnerable. In both of our Haas, in our, in our new hospital, which is completely opposite to our longterm care home. And then in the longterm care home, it is just admirable. I get humbled every day coming to work and one day last week, Myself and the VP for the longterm care home went over and screened in all this stuff and screened them out, looked at the, you know, the checklist had changed that day for what the symptoms were and taking everybody's temperature with infrared temperature gun that I never learned to use.
I'm still, you know, I've got one of those old thermometers at home that you stick under your tongue. So all that, I mean, that's not hard equipment to learn, but, the important. The importance of. Active vigilant screening and making sure that people understand the severity of, of what we're doing, which they do.
I, I can honestly say that, and then I come back to the hospital and that's where this office is, and it was designed according to PTAC standards, so you can barely get to a patient bed here. We're the only hospital in Canada that has individual patient rooms. And you've got to walk by us by a hand sanitizer.
And then a sink to get to the patients. So if you don't wash your hands, there's something that you've missed along the way and choose should hand back your, you should get your tuition money back cause you should have failed nursing. We audit for hand hygiene. We, we. Put up our key performance indicators on monitors all over the place.
Our hand hygiene started to drop when we moved to the new hospital because our infection prevention and control physician, infectious diseases, doctor J Gerald Evans said, people kind of get this halo that when you're in a new shiny place, they're there. Past habits start to, so a couple of summers ago, we put a full court press back on hand hygiene and got our numbers from 63% back up to in the nineties and we're really serious about that and have been, and the month of March we were at a hundred.
That's how, how vigilant and important, we made hand hygiene, our occupational health and safety division and our infectious disease division. Had COVID the radar from January. So they started talking to the management team at our team forums about being prepared and what does that mean, and making sure that we had enough PPE.
We never let our pandemic supplies go down. We never took that money out of the budget. So the saving grace for us was that not only did we have an excellent team to support the frontline nursing staff, we had the equipment to do the job. And then in our hospital because of its design and because of the, we decided to follow the directives from the ministry that came out on March the 10th into the hospital because we felt our patients were just as vulnerable here and we locked down external visitors.
Our environmental staff in less than 24 hours, built Plex, weaker glass screens at every door for us to screen. Like just, they, they almost didn't have to be asked. We said, how are we going to do this? They went. We'll build just screens. You know, before we were, all of the plexiglass went up in every grocery store and every other hospital we had them, like on March the 11th we had Plexiglass screens everywhere.
Like they were just all about safety, protecting the patients and protecting the staff. And, and from my perspective, I, I couldn't have wanted anything more. And. As a nurse that leads the corporation. It's very satisfying to see all the physicians, all the nurses, all the staff, the recreation staff, the environmental staff, the food services staff, all wrapping around the nursing staff that are putting themselves in the way of COVID.
And we've had four outbreaks. Right. So now our last outbreak is a weak, positive, a false positive. Or maybe it was even, no, not a positive OEC.. so we all, felt that, it was very important that that. False positive, not positive, weak, positive.
We are calling it now or a mock disaster because it really made us think, you can't rest on your heels with this. It's everywhere. Could come in at any time. We have outbreaks around the region. Kingston itself sent a bit of a bubble. We're not, we're not satisfied with that. We want to make sure that we're vigilant.
It's tough. It's really hard. Like, yeah. Like I'm still at work and most nights I leave at nine and I get here at seven 30 in the morning, and it's just all the emails that you have to do at the end of the day because you're on teleconference all day long, or you're talking to people or families that call you like you have to talk to people through this.
Communication is key.
Mary Wheeler: So how are you taking care of yourself? This is a, this is. You've just described a situation, a story, a scenario to me and I say to as how, and I would ask both your Gina and Claudine, how are you? Take us what you really are in your own way, whether it's the CEO, whether it's leadership in peel region, whether it's leadership in the hospital.
These are unbelievable roles that you're playing. And what it shows me in whatever way is amazing leadership. you wouldn't have the responses you're having, if each of you weren't playing at being amazing leaders, but taking, putting the job aside, cause you're, you're, you're competent. You're on the learning curve.
But I'd be just curious, how are you taking care of yourself.
Cathy Szabo: Well, I, you know, things happen. Like last week I was driving home. I got a flat tire and I had to drive on the rubber donut for eight hours to get back to my house in Toronto. That's a lot of relaxation, meditation time that I can pick me up something in the car, like I do use my trips back and forth to think.
And to not be engaged. I mean, the odd time somebody will call me and, and they're, they, they have every, every opportunity to do so. My cell phone number is everywhere here, and if anybody wants to call, they can. I think I have, I come from strong stock. You know, my mum, I know your mouse. She's going to be 90 this year.
She's really ticked that she can't golf in her golf week this year because they're there. There's no social time. You know, you can get a tee off time and go, but she goes, that's not why I golf. I golf to talk to people. She still drives and now we've bought her an automatic lawnmower. She wants to start cutting her own lawn cause the guy's not dependable.
So I think family means a lot.
Yeah. My daughters are just incredible. They call me, one's a physician and one practices health law. So I'm, I'm very relieved that they're both employed. They haven't faced some of the same. economic hardship that other people have. We FaceTime, we talk on the phone, the grandkids get on the WhatsApp.
So I get to see them, even if I can't touch them and give them a hug. I think that, there's, there's, Family and friends are very important. I'm really upset. I haven't been able to go to the gym because it's closed, but we have an exercise room here and they closed it. And I said to my VP in charge of it, I said, if I'm not at my desk in the morning, come to the gym and check me because I don't care.
My card still works. I'm going to go down and row and and walk. But of course, I never got there. I never got off off the tele calls today to do that. But I try and, and, and I think. The, my personal values or my attitude about, trying to do the very best. I, I know, like it's devastating when you get an outbreak.
It's just absolutely soul crushing and everybody here's deflated, but you have to say it. Everybody, okay, we did the best. We screened hard. Now let's make sure we don't transmit it and how do we do this? It's, it's just being positive that we'll get through this. Now they're saying out here, well, you know, you haven't hit the first wave like everybody else.
You're going to get crushed in the second wave. We don't want to do that either, but yeah. But I think just being comfortable knowing when to reach out and to talk to other people or to get the help you need, whether it's about, you know, can somebody run down to the cafe and get me a salad for lunch, or always having good food in them.
In the freezer. I find if I don't have healthy food around and I start grabbing cookies or chocolates cause there's tons of that around now. Everything, baking and bringing stuff in, I don't feel any better. And I try to sleep every night at least seven and a half hours. That's important. But I try
Mary Wheeler: Georgina, so how do you take care of yourself through all this?
Georgina MacDougall: be grateful. Every morning I wake up, well, look for beauty in nature, whether I usually take the GO train in, but, I've been driving in and it's been an absolute dream. I, I'm, it's usually three hours a day like that down to under. Under about an hour and a half. no, it's, it's lovely. It feels very civilized.
Yeah. I'm so grateful for that. big network of friends that I've stayed connected with. Certainly my family. being the only person in healthcare, in my friends circle, my close friend circle in my family. I often feel like I'm the. The voice of reason and people off the ceiling because of what they're hearing on the news.
Also, the voice of reality. you know, this isn't going away in two weeks. This isn't going away. Next month, this is going to come back next fall.
And feeling that that's not, that's not comforting to me, but that, I guess that's just another stress. So I'm going to work, as I say, working in infectious diseases, I'm around experts and, and I'm looking to them for their reassurance, I guess is, Doing some mindfulness. I wish I was more physically active. I definitely have put on more weight, because I, I used to walk up from union station to sick kids. That was my, now I walk to my car from my car to my office and back to those. and the weather's not been very cooperative. yeah.
So unfortunately. Food is my comfort. So
Mary Wheeler: yeah,
Georgina MacDougall: but prayer, meditation, trying to find, comedians on Netflix so I can laugh and
Mary Wheeler: yeah,
Georgina MacDougall: the amount of news I watch that's started early. My husband literally, cause he's been working from home, is watching the news still way too much. and I just like, I need an hour and that's all I can do and I'm done.
Mary Wheeler: So Claudine, how are you take caring, taking care of you?
Claudine Bennett: I don't know. I'm not, I'm not a very good, I'm not very good at routines ever, so I don't have, I don't have a really. Great routine. I, you know, I like to eat healthy, but finding it extremely challenging right now, but the long hours, and my husband has a crazy schedule right now, so, you know, Eva, as much as we might.
Yep. Get to the grocery store and get some food. Nobody's got time for the meal prep. So I'm at the region, actually right now, our meals are getting provided, so that's really nice. but they're not hugely balanced. So, you know, I'm, have what I can there that, that, That I totally appreciate and is helpful.
we also have a lot of chips and things around, so I find myself kind of munching on those. I gave up coffee. I actually had to give up coffee. That was something I had to do for myself because I, I haven't quite figured it out, but I think the natural adrenaline that I have running through my veins right now because of like the hypervigilance and just.
You know, in logistics, everything's urgent and needs to get done yesterday. so I just kind of feel like I'm always at this state of like needing to like, run, you know, fight or flight is there. So I was finding the coffee was just really bad, making me feel, extra, extra anxious. So, so I gave up coffee and I feel way better since I.
I stopped drinking coffee and I actually take a lot of, it gives me a lot of joy to recognize other people. So I find myself being very intentional about making sure. People on my team feel appreciated. that people, just that I just, I think, you know, I know how much I appreciate right now how hard I'm working and when somebody takes a moment to, To say thank you, or to be really specific about a thing that you did and all that good stuff we learn in leadership, and actually doing that. so I don't know, I don't know if you can call that self care, but maybe that's part of it being a nurse is caring for others is part of caring for yourself.
And that just seems to, it gives me like a lot of comfort.
Mary Wheeler: And what I, what I love, Claudine, is your point is that is also being honest.
Here's, here's my reality. I can't eat maybe healthy. So it's not, you know, be berating yourself to say, this is the situation I'm in. What's the, you know, what's one,
a couple of things I could do, not,
Again, listening to people feeling guilty, like not feeling guilty for, here's the reality we're in right now. And, knowing for each, like I love how each of you find different ways to deal with the stressors in your day.. I'd be curious and just thinking we're going into nurse's week next week because we've got such an amazing opportunity for you on this, on this chat.
what, where are you seeing nursing right now? What advice to the collective that you're, you're in it in the thick of it. in each of your, areas, what advice or what do we need to pay attention to? What does nursing need to be attentive to going forward.
Maybe I'll start with you, Cathy.
Cathy Szabo: I am, I think we need to, build more nursing leadership or profile it more.
I think that, certainly in our long-term care home, the nursing leadership there is outstanding, but they're very humble people and they do a great job. In our hospital because it's. Neuro rehab, mental health, complex care. There's a lot more demonstrated. allied health leadership, like the rehab OT, PT, crew, you can see leaders all over the place.
It's, it's hard to find the nursing leaders here. And we've been trying to, where we've now, Linked up, there's a new associate Dean at Queens, Ernest Clark from east. And, we, we've hooked her into Providence care and it's been great. So, she's offered nurse practitioners for our extra beds and, her and I are probably going to do some research together on something, but.
There was very strong physician leadership in Kingston because of Queens and Simo and all the physicians that are here, they try to take over. There's not a lot of nursing leadership that, that is demonstrable other than me. And, I, I was pleased cause I was on a panel, a bullet round panel at the school of policy and the result of these physicians and Dr. David Walker was the organizer of all of this. And whenever I introduce myself, I introduce myself, president CEO, and I say, I'm a nurse. And when we were recruiting the new Dean of medicine, I made sure that they knew that I was a nurse when I was running a hospital. And it's interesting cause when he introduced me, he's on my board.
He's, he said very, supportively and proudly, and she's a nurse. She's the only one on this panel you need to listen to. And he said that to everybody because he says, I listened to her all the time, but I think there's, there's, I still, you know, in all the years I've been in nursing, physicians tend to take the spotlight, and I kept saying to them, we do very well in Canada about medically diagnosing and treating people, but when it comes to their activities of daily living and helping them be healthy. That's nursing. And I have a daughter who's a physician and I, I have this discussion with her all the time too, right?
But when I listened to her talking to her patients, I know, I know I had an impact and an influence on her because what she talks about isn't just medically diagnosed, right. People. Right. But it somehow, we can't seem to break through that healthcare wall that. That it's all about physicians first. And I would say that, they're, they may be a little bit better organized than us, and they have a lot more money to play with than we do. And they provide scholarships and funding and salaries to send their physicians to leadership courses. And they don't have to. Budget down to the last dollar like nurses do. And here they are taking all the hospitals' CEO jobs in Ontario. Every time one comes up, a boy doctor gets it, you know? So I don't know where nursing is and all this, and, and I would suggest I'm on.
A fair amount of phone calls with Doris Grisman from RNAO. And I'm, and I'm not sure, nurses are getting the kind of respect that they deserve for all the hard work that they do. And I don't know how to change that. And I've been trying for years, you know.
Gail Donner:, I'd be interested, actually, Cathy, maybe if Georgina and Claudine could. weigh in on this issue of leadership because there will be lessons learned and there will be lessons learned about how we as a collective of all providers and professionals and, and families and whatever have managed and what we've done well and where we could learn.
And on the one hand, I'm, I would say. Listening to the three of you, we have amazing examples of leadership right here, but I also know, and I know if we push further on this, each of you will say, where is everybody? There are, you know how many nurses in Ontario, a huge number, a hundred thousand whatever it is.
Where, are they in terms of voice and in terms of leadership, not just leadership in the profession, but leadership in health, leadership in, in improving the lives of citizens. However, people like to do it. So maybe I know we don't have a lot more time left, and if it's okay, since you gave it to me, Mary and Georgina could weigh in just a couple of minutes on.
Is this something that we need to pay attention to going forward? Which is a little bit what I heard from you, Cathy, because I know, Oh, everybody can identify with the scenario you described. but is this something we have to pay attention to? Are we okay in this area? I'd be interested. Because to me, I think what we have these sweet, great leaders, Whitefield, let's see what they think about leadership.
So, I don't know, Georgina, you started, it doesn't matter who
Georgina MacDougall: I was, you know, I think, nursing is, we're the quiet leaders where the, you know, because we are the front line and, you know, we, we.
We spend more time with the patient then than we do the physician. and I think building our voice is. Is tantamount.
You know, we need to be able to speak, and I feel blessed working in an institution where nursing has always been recognized. That was one of my draws coming to sick kids is the encouragement to speak up. And if I'm not happy with something to take it to the next level. So, I think within the profession, I think we do a disservice by not recognizing and not cultivating nurses. We look solely at the education level and not so much at the qualities of leadership. and, and building, from the inside out. You know, we keep, we keep, we're really almost following the medical model. We need to have more and more and more credentials. You know, to be before you can be recognized as a leader. And I think that's a, that's a major disservice, to, to the profession. because I think there's a lot of natural leaders, that just need to be mentored and, cultivated from within.
Claudine Bennett: So I, I would concur with both Cathy and Georgina in terms of the importance of nursing, nursing leadership, I think, I don't think always our, you know, our structures are such that, You know, I'm, I'm not saying leadership and, you know, having a high CEO kind of position are necessarily synonymous, but certainly having visibility at that, you know, at the CA CEO type level where Cathy is, or, you know, in, director positions, VP positions and things like that are important.
I know in public health, There's lots of great nursing leaders, both at the front line, you know, at the supervisor, manager, director level. But the, the leadership in a public health unit is largely men doctors.
So, when, when doctors join a public health unit, they often are at a, at a very high status position, right away, and so, you know, I'm not saying that there isn't really good respect for the nursing leaders, but that structure, tends to, to make doctors very important, right from the outset. and. If you don't mind, I wouldn't mind. I really liked the other question about what does, what do nurses need now or what does nursing need now?
And just, I was kind of thinking about my answer to that. So if you don't mind, I kinda answered that question.
One of the things I've been encouraging with my team this is going to be a thing we're going to say now, right? was, was really encouraging my, my team, many of whom are experts in their work and have been doing similar work for many years.
to be like really encouraging them to be. Flexible and agile and figuring out the ways that they could best manage change. Because all of us,, all of us respond to change differently. We all know this, and I happened to be, one of these people who thrives on change. I'm always looking for,, a new thing or,, wanting to get it.
Educated in something else or try something new or, and change doesn't really impact me in a negative way, but I do know that some people really struggle with it. So,, I think my message to nurses right now at this moment is, do, do what you need to do to be able to be as agile and flexible as you can right now and figure out how you can best manage change.
Because, we're in it, we're in it. And I know, at least in my organization right now, we are asking people to change on a dime. in this response in public health, our public health nurses might do two or three different kinds of jobs in a three month span, just as the response changes are, or what the need is based on what's happening out in the community.
And, and it's tough., to learn a new job every three weeks. but it is what's needed right now. And, that's part of the reason I feel like, really, boosting the troops and making feel people feel good about the work that they're doing is so important right now.
Mary Wheeler: Well, I have to say Claudine. I'm watching the chat on the webinar. And it must be one of your staffers as it is, as an observer.
And she says, "yeah, no, I can attest to Claudine's wonderful way of acknowledging people. And she works. She works with, I'm honored with just logistics team at peel health, and her drive is infectious."
So just what you are, yo, it's like words into action.
I just was watching that get posted prior to you. You talking.
I'm staring out. I'm just am catching at this beautiful moon. I dunno if anybody can see outside this most amazing moon in the sky. And
I think, Claudine, when you
about like, we're in it, like the sky is here,
the moon is here, we're in it.
I guess in, in bringing, not some close, but just I'd be really interested, as colleagues to colleagues of, what's one thing you discovered or learned about yourself through this?
Claudine Bennett: I can share because I know right away.
I have way more capacity than I ever imagined.
I had no idea I could actually work this hard and for this long and still stand. And have this many things in my brain all at once and learn so many things and still actually managed to, feel good at the end. Most days, not every day, but most days feel really good about what I accomplished in that day.
Mary Wheeler: Yeah. Yeah. Georgina..
Georgina MacDougall: I think just the, reinforcement that, of the community at large of acknowledging healthcare. cause I don't think most people think about healthcare workers unless they're immersed in a crisis with their immediate family or,, and so to hear. the outpouring of, of recognition, is quite inspiring to me.
Mary Wheeler: And Cathy?
Cathy Szabo: I think I've learned how resilient I really am and how, that the effect that I've. Been able to have with working with my staff and leading the organization has, it surprises me when I get a thank you card in the mail or an email or a family member, send me a note because through this COVID piece, I've been in the media a fair bit in the last little while and there's more coming in.
And, the, the people from the media that call me back and say, we really want to talk to you because you seem to know what's going on. Or my husband works at women's college and his CEO emailed him and says, I heard your wife on the radio today, or she seems to understand how to do this. We wish she was here.
It all like, just nice little things that come my way. I don't, didn't realize that. The work that I was trying to do every day to just be a good person and do the right thing was having that kind of effect on other people. And the role that you play in your organization is so important because, To be a leader, you need followers. And I, you never know if you have them in through this COVID thing that the, the, the people that I've reached out to me have just like, I could cry some days that I'm not touched in that emotional about it. But I think it's, you need to have a, a sense of resilience. And I never knew I was as resilient as we've done this through COVID.
Mary Wheeler: I'm going back to Georgina because, I think you're very unassuming and I would, I would think you probably have some of the attributes that Cathy was talking about also, is that you're there for others. And sometimes it's not seeing it. So I think we all can bring different pieces of understanding of, what we're learning about ourselves through all this. And I guess the other thing, Georgina, I'm thinking is. Just when I said to you, Oh, well, don't become a, don't, you don't want to be an observer.
You want to be a participant and you just came along. Okay. Mary, I'll be also being open to whatever's going to happen.
Georgina MacDougall: Yes, yes. I was actually, recognized for nurses week and so, yeah.
My face will be planted on the daily news on Monday as a unassuming leader.
Claudine Bennett: congratulations
Mary Wheeler: Gail, it's, we've got a couple of minutes.
Maybe to bring some close or.
Gail Donner: Well, the first thing to say is that I wish we didn't have to end, really, there've been a couple of comments to this effect on the chat, but you really have been inspiring and it's done two things for me. One, make me glad we gave this opportunity because I'm hoping we'll have the opportunity to show it with larger groups and it will support. When people are inspirational, it helps other people find meaning, and that's what we're all doing right? By helping our clients and families find meaning and finding the meaning or self during difficult times. And that's clearly what you all doing. So I want to say thank you very much. I also want to say that in terms of closure for this, a huge thank you, to you for participating and, we all, thinking about the, perhaps at the end of the month, the final session we would have might be an open session. And if that is the case, we'd invite you to participate again, if you'd like to with other colleagues, et cetera.
I really want to say is thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It was truly inspirational and to wish you lots of luck. Keep up that fight. I am sure you all will do then you ever did.
On behalf of those who have to stay home and wish they could be there.
Mary Wheeler: And I think that's the theme coming through on the chats. People just so inspired by your stories and one ending, like, thank you, happy nurses week to all of you.
Gail Donner: Bye. Bye. Bye.
We look forward to hearing from you!
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