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L to R: Lisa Falls, Katie Oliver, and Sandy Macey, registered nurses in the OR.

RMH nurses urge compassion and say ‘stay strong’ in pandemic’s expected final phase

in Community/Health by
L to R: Lisa Falls, Katie Oliver, and Sandy Macey, registered nurses in the OR.

Lisa Falls always dreamed of becoming a nurse from the earliest age. An RN for 22 years at Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, she says she has many great memories in her long career.

“Recently, we did surgery on one of my children’s old teachers, and I was lucky enough to be with her during her surgery. She made a blog post which mentioned how I was just like an angel when she was there in the operating room, and when she was about to go to sleep, she was so scared and I held her hand…It was just really nice. I was in tears,” reading that, says Falls.

This week is National Nursing Week, although with a pandemic raging for 15 months it seems nurses have been on the forefront of people’s minds on a regular basis.

“My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams, and I graduated as a registered nurse in 1999,” Falls told the Advocate, pointing out she’s local.

There were no other nurses in her family, so it was a point of pride for her to go through the nursing program and find herself in this career.

Kristin Johnston, R.N. at Ross Memorial Hospital.

Kristin Johnston is brand new in her role as a nurse, finding her beginnings in the industry as a COVID-19 screener in April 2020 before becoming an RN four months later.

Johnston used to work at a gym, with an undergrad in Human Kinetics and a Master’s in Sport and Health Psychology, both from University of Ottawa. She found herself wanting to work more on “the clinical side of health and wellness.”

She had a couple of friends who were nurses and they “loved their jobs,” helping her decide to make the career move. She was able to use some of her existing education at Trent University to avoid having to do the entire program and eventually succeeded in getting into the blue scrubs.

When asked what it was like to be just finishing up school and starting her new job, and then having it begin with an unknown and dangerous virus, she admitted it was difficult.

“Starting in the hospital at the time, it was challenging in terms of not knowing what was going to happen, and that feeling sometimes returns with COVID protocols changing constantly,” she says.

“But I think now there is a better understanding that that is the norm,” for now, she adds.

Falls was working in the operating room (OR) when the virus first spread, and she has continued there over the course of the past year. “The virus impacted us (the OR),” she explained, “because we weren’t able to continue doing our job on a normal basis every day,” since so many elective surgeries were cancelled, while some of her coworkers were deployed to the highest need areas in the hospital.

But there were still emergency surgeries and cancer cases.

Still, as an OR specialist, Falls said she and her crew are used to flexibility, including going to work in the middle of the night for emergency surgeries. “We learned in the operating room that things usually don’t go as planned on a daily basis. There’s always an emergency C-section or appendix removal or something.”

Johnston says RMH has been a great place to work, and she has felt “very supported” as a new nurse, finding her colleagues approachable and welcoming.

She implored people to “stay as safe as you can, and be compassionate and kind when you can, because everyone’s a little frustrated and overwhelmed and burnt out from this experience that no one’s ever been through before.”

Falls has never lost sight of the joy in the job she’s done for more than two decades. “I feel grateful that I’m still able to come to work every day and do my job that I absolutely love,” she said. “I feel that we’re very lucky to have the OR team that we have because everybody’s very supportive.”

The veteran nurse says she wants to “thank everybody in the community for doing their part to fight the pandemic,” and hopes everyone will sign up for vaccines so the coronavirus can be beaten.

“I think if we stay strong we can all get through this together.”

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