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IN IT TOGETHER: ‘Patients mean everything to me'

Posted Jun 10th, 2020

IN IT TOGETHER: ‘Patients mean everything to me'

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 Deanna Hannigan, a Dietary Aide at our Fort Erie Site.

Deanna Hannigan is providing more than nourishment to patients when she brings meals to their rooms at our Fort Erie Site.

Deanna, a Dietary Aide with the Niagara Health Food Services team, is also bringing smiles to their faces and brightening their days.

“They mean everything to me. I care a lot about them,” says Deanna, who has been part of the Niagara Health team for 15 years - the first nine years as a personal support worker and the last six working with the Food Services team. “When I get them set up with their food, have a chat with them and see them smiling, it is so rewarding.”

Deanna has always taken extra time to socialize with patients when bring them their meals. But it’s especially more important for her and other members of the Food Services team with a No Visitor Policy in effect during the pandemic.

The Food Services team, which serves and prepares about 3,000 meals a day to patients at our five sites, has shown their compassion in many ways during the pandemic.

They have been putting cards on meal trays to let patients know they are thinking of them during this challenging time. And they’ve sent care packages, including brownies, ice cream bars and coffee, to their colleagues working on inpatient units as a way to say thank you for the care they are providing.

What’s the biggest difference working during the pandemic?

Aside from wearing a mask, it’s the patients not having families coming in. It’s a big change for them. Some family members are here every day. It’s not easy for patients. When I deliver their food tray, I try to spend extra time with them and keep them happy and smiling. I try to give them that extra time to talk and socialize. It’s a nice feeling. I know I made a difference by seeing them smiling and laughing. It’s such a rewarding job.

How else do you and the team brighten patients’ days?

When it’s a patient’s birthday, they get a card and a placemat on their meal tray that says happy birthday. We usually sing happy birthday to them, too. We’ve always done that. But during the pandemic, when there is a birthday, sometimes families come outside their room window so they can wave to them. Our team puts signs in the window like “I miss you” and “I love you.” It’s really nice they can see their families this way.

Describe the team at the Fort Erie Site.

It’s like a family here. Everybody works so well together. You lend a hand to everybody when they need something. People are so compassionate. It’s a wonderful place to work.

What’s the most difficult part personally for you during the pandemic?

It’s not being able to see more of my grandkids, my kids and my entire family. Sometimes I drive by their house and stand on the sidewalk and they stay on the porch and we talk and wave. My five-year-old granddaughter would cross her arms and throw me hugs. Not being able to give them an actual hug is difficult. I can’t wait for that.

Read In It Together story about our team here.


Niagara Health System