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 Abram Shihata, a Biomedical Engineering Technologist. May 18-22 is Biomedical Engineering Week.
It’s the heightened focus on infection control that is the most eye-opening part about working during the pandemic for Biomedical Engineering Technologist Abram Shihata.
Abram is part of Niagara Health’s Biomedical Engineering team, which is responsible for maintaining medical equipment and providing education and training on the correct and safe use of medical devices, like ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors and infusion pumps. The team covers all Niagara Health sites and the Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. Catharines.
“There’s a whole lot more involved from an infection control perspective and more restrictions during the pandemic,” says Abram, who has been part of the Niagara Health team for six years. “It’s so important we follow these procedures to protect ourselves, patients and other staff.”
One of Abram’s designated departments of responsibility is the Intensive Care Unit at our St. Catharines Site, which is caring for the most critically ill patients with COVID-19.
What’s changed about your role during the pandemic?
Our core work remains the same, but we’re a lot more cautious right now. You have to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment like masks and face shields when you are in certain patient areas. We’re also a lot more cautious about the equipment we are working on. When equipment is moved from a patient care area to be repaired, our team disinfects it again before the work begins. This is in addition to the cleaning of the equipment by the environmental services team or clinical team. We do our due diligence to clean it before and after, so when we return it to the care area, we know it’s in good order. We also disinfect our tools and our work space afterward.
What is the most challenging part about working during the pandemic?
It’s the unknown of COVID-19 and how it can spread so easily. You can’t just go in and do your job and leave. We take the direction from each department we’re working in. We wear the same personal protective equipment as our clinical colleagues on each unit when we enter a patient’s room and elsewhere. We’re being extra cautious with everything.
What is the most challenging part personally during the pandemic?
I worry about my wife and one-year-old daughter. I want them to be safe. Also, the fact you can’t really have a social life outside of your house makes it a little more difficult. And you can’t go see family and friends. That’s not easy, but everyone is in the same boat.
How do you unwind?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter. And without being able to go out, there’s a whole lot of YouTube and Netflix watching. I really missing watching sports on TV.
Describe working with your team?
We’re a close team and we help each other whenever possible. They’re really a great group to work with and I’m proud to be part of the Niagara Health team during this time.
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