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IN IT TOGETHER: Keeping patients and families connected on the COVID Unit

Posted Apr 30th, 2020

IN IT TOGETHER: Keeping patients and families connected on the COVID Unit

This is part of a series of stories profiling members of the Niagara Health team and the work they are doing as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet Registered Nurse Devin Rankin, who is part of the team caring for patients with COVID-19 at our St. Catharines Site.

Caring for patients with a potentially devastating illness like COVID-19 is hard enough for the team on Unit 4A at our St. Catharines Site. But adding to the challenge is the fact patients’ loved ones cannot be by their side, says Registered Nurse Devin Rankin.

During the pandemic, Niagara Health implemented a no-visitors policy across our sites as part of our efforts to maintain a safe environment for our patients.

“For me, a challenge is that our team is now the primary human connection for our patients because their loved ones are unable to visit them. We’re the only ones they have human contact with,” says Devin, who joined the Niagara Health team three years ago after graduating from McMaster University’s nursing program.

But Devin and other members of the team are making sure patients and their families stay connected.

“We connect patients with their loved ones though video chat and over the phone. We will sit by their side and hold the phone right up to their ear if they are too weak, so they can hear their family member’s voice,” she says. “When they are able to see a loved one on the screen or hear their voice, you see a glimmer in their eyes. It makes me so happy to see patients speak with their loved ones.”

How has your role changed during the pandemic?

My role really hasn’t changed. We’re nurses and caregivers, it’s what we do. What has changed is that the conditions of patients are more critical, they are more acute with this virus. Their conditions change more rapidly compared with patients we cared for before on the unit. Each day is new, and even hour to hour can be different because of how rapidly patients’ conditions change. It’s busier than what it used to be.

Describe working with your colleagues on Unit 4A?

They’re incredible. We’ve always been a good and close team. Now with all of the emotions going through everyone, we have become a family. We have bonded so much, even more than we had before.

What’s the most challenging part personally about working during the pandemic?

I live at home with my parents. Because of the pandemic and where I work, I decided to stay in a hotel to keep everyone safe. It’s sad, but at the same time it’s the right decision because I have to keep my family protected. Living at a hotel you are isolated, which is very similar to how our patients are, and it’s not easy, but I understand why I need to do this. I had to make sacrifices in my life to keep others safe.

How do you unwind after a shift?

I like doing workouts, puzzles and going for walks. Also, I sometimes watch a comedy movie, something that’s totally outside of sadness. Chatting with family and friends helps a lot, too.

Reflect on the experience of being on the front lines during the pandemic?

I do go home with it and think about the day. It does hit me hard, but I am happy to come back to work and pour my heart and soul into my job. I try to provide the best care to patients and help uplift them. We’re all human and we all have emotions, so it would be hard for us to not take it home and think about it.  What does help is we have each other on the team to talk to and support one another, and for this, I love my job.

Click on the In It Together button below to read more stories about our team. 

Niagara Health System