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Kristen Hebert's Story
I still remember the call - “we’ve got another case.” It was mid January. Igloolik was very close to ending our outbreak status from our initial COVID-19 outbreak in late December 2021. I knew it was just a matter of time before more cases popped up, but I was hoping for the best. Within 48 hours we knew that this was much larger than what we had experienced in the previous year.
I will say this, we had prepared for these days for a very long time. We had mock plans and discussions over the last two years, from who would do what role within the health centre to the “what ifs” on if we needed to expand past our health centre facility to shift schedules so that we could contact trace 24 hours a day. In retrospect, I think those plans saved us, even if we had to go back to the drawing board about 100 more times during our outbreak, we at least had a starting point and vision on how we would contain a COVID-19 outbreak.
When I think about January to March 2022, there are many emotions that come to me. Worry. I am a public health nurse in Igloolik and coordinate all newborn assessments for our community. When young patients started to get sick, I worried for them. I worried for their parents. I thought about them after work, before going to sleep, and hoped they would be tough enough to pull through this. And they did! At times I felt incredibly helpless, especially calling families to tell them they were positive. I remember situations where people would cry out with fear on the other end of the phone. During the height of the Igloolik outbreak, it felt as if we never went home. We were there 7 days a week from day to night and at times and it felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders while we tried to contain this outbreak. Those days were tough.
Even though those months were incredibly challenging, I like to look back at that time with pride. Our health centre staff stood up to the challenge to protect our community. Everyone had a role and they did it well. We worked in sync and could bring suggestions and alterations to our response that bettered our outcome. Everyone from our nurses, who worked day and night to identify and treat COVID-19 infections, to our cleaning and maintenance staff who were fearless and answered our calls in times of great risk of exposure, to our front desk staff who answered hundreds of calls to provide support while working incredibly hard in their own roles. I remain humbled by those memories.
Nursing week is always a great time to reflect on what our profession has done in times of chaos. I tip my hat to all nurses and health care staff for their dedication during the last two years. The struggles and challenges we have faced may be the worst we have faced in modern days, but we remain here for you. Ready to care for you and your family when you need it most. Thank you nurses.
COVID-19 Rapid Response Team Lead for Igloolik
Public Health Nurse