Nurses' Stories from the Pandemic

In leading up to 2020, few could foresee the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this pandemic tested every aspect of our healthcare system and amplified its shortcomings, it also revealed its strengths.

Nurses became one of the systems most valuable resources. Nurses have been an important social capital of the healthcare system, but with this pandemic, their knowledge and skills were, as always, in even more desperate need.

Although we have relied on numbers and statistics to track the development of the pandemic, these data tell only part of the COVID-19 story.

Over the past two years, members of the COVID 19 Nurses Story Project have had the privilege of interviewing over 55 nurses across CIUSSS Centre Ouest.   These nurses were at different stages in their career—some young in their career while others, were seasoned clinicians. We collected stories from nurses who provided direct care, from middle managers, educators, and directors of nursing. They gave generously of their time and were eager to share their experiences. They did so with openness, integrity, honesty, and humility. They wanted us to hear how it had been and has been on the front lines—the good, the bad, the difficult, the unimaginable.

Their stories reveal the physical and emotional toll exacted on themselves, their own families, their patients and families, and their colleagues. Through their stories, they revealed who nurses are, the nature of nursing, the unrelenting challenges faced, and the complicated and complexity of nursing work.

Their stories are about compassion, courage, commitment, choices, expertise, and sacrifice. They are about suffering and trauma coupled with resilience and growth. They reveal the best of what it means to be a nurse in a helping profession. What they ask of themselves and what is asked of them by others. What it means to find oneself at the edge of one’s own capacity only to discover strengths within oneself, one’s families, and colleagues—strengths that may have laid dormant, gone unnoticed, or been untapped and been undeveloped.

These are but a selection of nurses’ stories that we have collected. We invite you to explore these powerful stories with the hope that through this virtual exhibit, you will deepen your understanding of nursing, understand why we were humbled as we listened to nurses’ recounting their experiences.  It is our hope that in hearing these stories, you will also connect to your own experiences as you find meaning in what you and your loved ones have been through during this unprecedented time.

These stories will be donated to an archive as a historical record of nurses’ stories the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Victoria Nixon, BA, is a registered nurse at the Jewish General Hospital. She was interviewed by Christina Clausen on April 28th, 2021. She is currently on maternity leave but will be returning to the surgery ward this coming winter.Patricia Robitaille, RN, M.Sc., is a conseillère-cadre in frontline services. She was interviewed by Karine Marineau on May 13, 2021.
Adila Zahir, DESS, MScN, is Chief of Service of Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) for the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. She was interviewed by Christina Clausen on April 29, 2021.Hà Quach, BScN, M.Sc., is head nurse in on an internal medicine unit and fast track unit (FTU) at the Jewish General Hospital. She was interviewed by Karine Marineau on April 22, 2021.
Hélène Lefebvre, DEC, is a nurse at the Jewish General Hospital and is currently finishing her Bachelor's in Nursing at the University of Montreal. She was interviewed on September 8, 2021 by Laura Crump.Idah Helna Dunga Sona, RN, is a team leader at Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre and is currently studying for her Bachelor's in Nursing. She was interviewed by Laurie Gottlieb on May 7, 2021.
Jean-Luc St-Amour is a 32-year-old nurse clinician who worked as a street nurse with homeless people. He was interviewed by Karine Marineau on March 16, 2021.Jennifer Clarke, MN, BScN, RN, GNC(C), is the Associate Director of the Support Program for the Autonomy of Seniors (SAPA) at the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal. She was interviewed by Gretchen Lydia Keller on April 16, 2021. At that time, she was the Program Coordinator SAPA for Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre.
Julia Mazzonna, BNI, is a nurse clinician at the Jewish General Hospital. She was interviewed by Christina Clausen on March 25, 2021. 

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