Hats off to the MUHC Nursing Resource Centres!
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke in March, the MUHC’s Nursing Resource Centres (NRC) were urgently called upon to reassign staff to areas that were most in need of support: triage stations, COVID-19 units, the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit. The demand for nursing expertise was high and internal movement of resources was a priority.
Gianna Lepiane, manager of the Nursing Resource Centre at the Montreal General Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital says the biggest challenges were the constant changes and evolving needs. “The situation was developing daily, sometimes even hourly, as new units were opening and others were being transformed into COVID-19 floors. We were transferring staff from their regular units to a new working environment and a different patient clientele. These were big changes for everyone and the positive response received from the nurses, PABs and unit coordinators was astounding,” says Gianna.
Another element of complexity was clearly designating who would work in a hot or cold zone. “From the get-go, we knew how contagious the virus was and we needed to identify who would work in a COVID or non-COVID zone. It was critical to identify these zones to our staff so we could send resources to the proper units,” explains Gianna.
At the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Cindy McCartney manages the NRC. She says the solidarity between professionals was truly remarkable. “Throughout the pandemic, whenever we sent out a call for help to clerks, nurses, licensed practical nurse (LPN), orderlies, respiratory therapists and allied health professionals, many volunteered to be displaced because they knew how urgently they were needed on the adult sites and in the CHSLDs. Despite the amount of movement at the MCH, at no time was pediatric care ever interrupted. Through excellent collaboration, we were able to maintain all urgent and semi-urgent services which was imperative for us.”
“I always tell people that the NRC is the heart of the hospital,” says Bruno Poudrier, NRC manager at the Lachine Hospital. “The work my team did to reassign resources to our resuscitation, emergency, and testing tents was absolutely colossal. As a cold site, we had to guarantee that there would be no exposures and back and forth between nurses who did shifts at the Camille Lefebvre Pavilion and the hospital itself. Our long-term care residents are extremely vulnerable and many are on respirators. To remain a cold site, there was absolutely no way we could send staff back and forth. I’m extremely proud about that we are one of 3 CHSLDs in Montreal with zero COVID cases, and that’s thanks to our measures,” says Bruno, who has been at Lachine Hospital for an incredible 33 years!
At the Neuro, the challenges were similar but collaboration, team work, and resilience made reassigning everyone much easier. “We worked on a volunteer basis and I’m thankful that so many nurses offered to help at the entrance exception table, on other units or sites. This really is an incredible testament to our team’s flexibility and versatility. I think the COVID-19 crisis made our team stronger because everyone rallied to help each other out. We continuously adjusted to the new changes that were coming our way, quickly juggling to find a balance between staffing the Neuro and sending any surplus staff to other sites or CHSLDs,” says Josée Lizotte, the NRC manager at the Neuro.
Asked how her team responded to the crisis, Gianna Lepiane beams with pride: “I have the best team! I’m so proud of how they handled the challenges and the fast pace of the pandemic. It’s thanks to them that we were able to be efficient in helping managers staff their units. Hats off to the entire team!”