Sarah Hasson, Msc(A), RN, is a nurse clinician at the Jewish General hospital. She worked in the intensive care unit at the time of her story. She was interviewed by Alefia Merchant on April 29, 2021.
In January 2020, just as we were just starting to hear about COVID-19, nurse clinician Sarah Hasson, from the intensive care unit, returned to work after a six-week hiatus. “I was looking forward to coming back to the hospital and to my team, they are really great,” she said. Also passionate about horseback riding, Hasson worked part-time, which left her time to take care of her horse.
“We had our first case in mid-March…and it was given to me,” recalled Hasson. An unknown illness, revised protocols…there were a lot of changes to deal with. "I remember saying to the nurse assigning the patients, ‘I'm scared,' because we had no idea what was going on.”
The Jewish General Hospital was then the only hospital in Montreal receiving COVID cases but as the weeks passed, the number of cases exploded, and society shut down. “It was after spring break that it started to be difficult, because we didn't know when it was going to end.”
At home, Hasson was living with her mother, who had come from France for a stay in Montreal. While she was grateful to have her with her, Hasson admitted that it was a source of concern at the time. As her mother had recovered from lung cancer, Hasson felt she had to protect her as best as possible. "I didn't kiss her or hug her the whole time she was there," said Hasson. Still, it was helpful to have her present and she recalled, “it was my mother who did everything at home, she helped me a lot. But we always kept our distance. »
Meanwhile, Hasson had to work full time as a result of the government decree and after two years of working part-time, she found the transition difficult. “It messed me up a bit,” she admitted. “I was tired. And the fact that I couldn’t go to take care of my horse had taken away my stress relief.” Working a lot with little opportunity to relax, Hasson lived through difficult times, with psychological stress adding to physical fatigue. "Everything was closed, there was nowhere left to go, and I was wondering: when is it going to stop?”
When the second wave arrived, Hasson was finally back to her part-time schedule. While Hasson came to terms this new wave, the hospital began resuming surgeries delayed by the pandemic. "We had to readapt," said the nurse. “We hadn't done any surgeries for three or four months..." But the accumulated backlog was much worse for patients, especially those with cancer or awaiting heart surgery, who had been put aside while their disease continued to progress.
Another source of concern – and frustration: people who abandoned sanitary measures too quickly. “There are still people who don't understand, or think the rules don't apply to them,” Hasson said. “This is what I find the most difficult, this kind of navel-gazing, when we know that there is no other solution. I think that feeling of frustration, I'm going to have it until the pandemic is over.”
Despite everything, it is impossible for Hasson to forget what this hard period had shown her, “For me, the most beautiful story of the pandemic is the unity I feel with my colleagues. Even at the lowest, we were super tight. And…we went through it. »