Hà Quach

 

Hà Quach, B.Sc. N, 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.

A Difficult Initiation

Hà Quach had just started her job as her unit’s head nurse at the Jewish General when the authorities declared the COVID-19 pandemic had started. “I’d only had one week of orientation at that point and I was new to the Jewish General Hospital,” she explained. A few days later, she was asked to open the COVID rule-out department, a unit for patients’ awaiting their COVID test results before being able to be sent to their designated department.  “With the help of my assistant head and educator, we were able to set up 18 beds for these patients awaiting their test results in just 16 hours!” she recounted proudly.

Her team had to sanitize the environment, put up isolation signage, coordinate with housekeeping and laundry staff and get the necessary equipment before patients could be moved to the unit. “I asked the Infection Prevention and Control team to train our nurses on personal protective equipment, special blood draws, and how to follow every protocol to the letter,” Ha explained. Though she didn’t know anyone yet, everything went smoothly. “We really collaborated with all the other departments, the cooperative dynamic between all the teams during the pandemic was incredible. I’m really proud of my team because they all delivered,” she affirmed.

Later on, due to her experience in infectious diseases (Ebola, among others), Quach realized that the ventilation in the staff’s break and locker rooms needed to be fixed in order to reduce the number of infections on her unit.

During the second and third waves, the organization asked Quach and her team to make several changes: welcoming patients from the geriatric unit and later patients from other services as well. As head nurse, Quach had to coordinate her team with the multidisciplinary team to adapt to the necessary changes, which were often done with very short notice.

Listen to an excerpt of the interview with Hà Quach:

During the second and third waves, the organization asked Quach and her team to make several changes: welcoming patients from the geriatric unit and later patients from other services as well. As head nurse, Quach had to coordinate her team with the multidisciplinary team to adapt to the necessary changes, which were often done with very short notice.

To accomplish her work, Quach also had to communicate with other managers. Apart from emails and the telephone, Quach had, like her colleagues, to learn to deal with new technologies, another challenge for her. “Using Teams is good but it meant I had very little human contact especially since I knew very few people at the hospital,” she said.

With all of this, Quach had less time with her own family, “as I worked a lot of hours and often came home late.” Her husband, who worked from home during the pandemic, was often left alone to help their children with their online coursework. “We were well organized, but like so many other families it was sometimes difficult to handle the demanding work, because of the COVID, and my personal life,” added Quach.

Meanwhile, her father received a diagnosis of lung cancer and was also treated at the Jewish General Hospital. Due to her workload and the COVID policies in place, she was often only able to see him for a few minutes at a time. He sadly died less than three months later. “I could have asked for a leave of absence to spend time with my father, but I didn’t even have the time to do it.” 

Now, Quach looks forward to being able to start working on other projects and initiatives on her unit to improve patient care. “My team is now capable of meeting any challenge. After everything that we’ve been through, I think I can say that I can handle anything,” she concluded.

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