Over the course of the pandemic, Northern Health has cared for over 2,900 COVID patients. It’s pleasing to see decreasing case numbers and hospitalisations in our community, however, as some of our dedicated COVID wards have now closed, we acknowledge the tremendous work of the remaining COVID wards still in use as they continue to work through the pandemic.
One of these wards is our specialised ‘pandemic ward’ – Ward 22.
Working entire shifts under stringent PPE and infection prevention protocols, staff on Ward 22 have shown dedication and commitment to continue to care for our community during difficult times.
Judy Sonneveld, Ward 22 Nurse Unit Manager, said, “I have been a part of Northern’s COVID response in varied roles and now am pleased to be leading a team on Ward 22. This team has come together from various wards and sites and has shown true Northern Health values working together to provide safe care with kindness to our community and each other. As we move on to go back to our substantive roles, Ward 22 will continue to meet the demands of the community and I feel honoured to be chosen to build a team that will be prepared to face the next challenge.”
Ward 22 is currently seeking interested candidates to join the team. We caught up with three staff to hear about their experiences working on a pandemic ward.
Gee Dhaliwal, Associate Nurse Unit Manager, said, “It has been a challenging and uncertain experience but at the same time it has strengthened me both professionally and personally. I was out of my comfort zone initially, but I am so proud of myself now and I believe I have achieved so much.”
“It is a great feeling and what an exciting challenge to be a part of history in the making. It gave me great satisfaction that I have been a key player in the community, helping save many lives and supporting patients and their families during the toughest of times,” Gee added.
Jake Gelvezon from the education team is currently assisting with shifts on Ward 22. His first foray into COVID was back in March 2020 at the beginning of the first wave and he is pleased to say he is still contributing to the ongoing response to this day.
“It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions but, overall, it’s a ride I do not regret getting on. I have learned a lot in the past two years and made a lot of friends in the process,” Jake said.
“I am proud to say that I work in the COVID wards because I know I can make a positive impact in the lives of our patients. COVID can hit really hard and we need nurses that are, not only compassionate, but also competent, and it brings me so much joy to see a patient go home to their loved ones.”
Tayla Macdonald started her graduate year on Ward 22 as a Registered Nurse in late January.
She said, “From the first day I arrived, I realised that working on a pandemic ward is not as scary as it may seem. It may be a little bit hard to wear full PPE for an eight-hour shift, but it is all worth it when you remember that you are truly helping those in need and have the opportunity to provide them with the best care possible.”
“You may be exhausted at the end of your shift, but you are proud to be a part of the COVID response and it brings a certain type of satisfaction to your work,” Tayla said.
When asked what they would say to health care workers considering applying to join the team, Tayla said, “Go for it – we can’t wait to meet you and have you on the team!”
Tayla added, “Ward 22 has been a welcoming environment in the short time I have been working here. I learn something new every single day and all the staff are always happy to lend a hand and answer any questions I have. If you want to join a tight-knit, friendly team, Ward 22 is for you.”
Gee said, “I can assure you that ongoing training and support from the clinical support team, Judy and myself will prepare you to look after critically-ill patients and you will be able to manage any situation with confidence. It’s a rewarding and an awesome feeling when patients believe in you, and in your skills, and leave with a big thank you!”
Jake agreed that working on a pandemic ward can be challenging, but extremely rewarding, and he encourages health care workers to apply.
“Please be reassured that you will be supported and heard. We have an amazing team of people working with us every day to ensure we deliver the best possible care. Plus, you get a free coffee every shift,” Jake said.
If you are keen to work on Ward 22 and make a significant contribution to our ongoing COVID response, click here.
Featured image (left to right): Gee Dhaliwal and Jake Gelvezon