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 Jaime Veldman, an Addictions Counsellor who is working as a screener during the pandemic.
Jaime Veldman says the most challenging part about working in the early days of the pandemic was stepping out of her comfort zone.
Jaime has worked for 12 years as an Addictions Counsellor at our New Port Centre in Port Colborne. During the pandemic, the residential treatment program in which she provides support was postponed, and she was redeployed to our patient/staff COVID-19 screening team.
“I am very comfortable at New Port Centre and I’ve been there for so long. I know everyone there and I’m comfortable working with them,” says Jaime, who screens staff and patients at the Urgent Care Centre in Port Colborne. “In that environment, I know my role. It was a bit uneasy at first in my role as a screener, but now that I’ve been doing it for quite a while, I’m more comfortable and I’ve found it great to be meeting new people at Niagara Health from different areas.”
Describe a typical day as a screener at the Urgent Care Centre in Port Colborne?
Early in the morning, the first people coming in are staff, so it’s a lot of greeting them and making sure they’ve done the COVID-19 staff screening online in advance. As the morning goes on, more members of the public come in for the Urgent Care or to go for an X-ray. We direct people on where they need to go and make sure if they have any symptoms, like a cough, shortness of breath or fever, that they get a mask and we ask them to sit in a certain area to keep everyone safe.
What is a learning that you’ve taken away from your role as a screener?
It is hard to tell people that they cannot visit. I am understanding and empathetic of people who cannot visit their loved ones in the hospital. They are people who before the pandemic were coming every day to see them. I try to figure out with people what other ways they can connect with their loved one, like giving them a call or if there is something they can leave for them that would make the patient feel good. It is hard when you don’t see people face to face. I know of a couple of times where nurses set it up for a patient to FaceTime with their grandkids. Those little things really make a difference to brighten someone’s day.
Describe working the team of screeners?
Everyone is supportive of each other. People are really open to making it a positive environment and also really hard-working, too. People are eager to do whatever it takes to help others. I’ve worked with pretty much the same people for the last 12 years at New Port – and it’s amazing and I love them – but it’s really great to work with different people and to see how motivated and positive they are.
What’s the most challenging part personally for you during the pandemic?
For me, I have a son who is a year-and-a-half old. When all of this happened, he stopped going to his daycare, so my partner and I decided to work opposite shifts. We don’t see a lot of each other during the week, all three of us together, so that is really challenging. On the weekends, we try to spend quality time together. I’m also really close with my family – my parents and sister and brother and their families. We have board game nights together and I really miss that. It’s hard not to see them.
Click on the In It Together button below to read more stories about our team.