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 Kristi Kita, an Occupational Therapist. October is Occupational Therapy Month.
Kristi Kita is quick to respond when asked what her patients mean to her.
“I see every patient as an opportunity to improve. I treat every patient as if they are a family member,” says Kristi, a member of the Occupational Therapy team at Niagara Health. “I always make sure I provide them with the best care I can and make their experience personal. I try to treat them like family because that is how I would want my family members or myself to be treated if I was in hospital.”
Our team of Occupational Therapists, who work in various areas and programs across all Niagara Health sites, empower patients to overcome barriers that interfere with their ability to do everyday activities. They provide patient-centred assessment and treatment, addressing a variety of physical, cognitive, perceptual and mental health challenges.
“We try to maintain and optimize a patient’s function, including activities like dressing and bathing, to ensure when they are getting closer to discharge, they are able to perform those activities of daily living safely and effectively for when they do return home,” says Kristi, who joined the Niagara Health team five years ago.
In the early months of the pandemic, Kristi, who has a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from McMaster University, was supporting patients in the Emergency Department at our St. Catharines Site and has since moved to the surgical inpatient unit.
What has been the most challenging part about working during the pandemic?
Wearing a mask is the most challenging part because most of the patients I work with are 65 years and older, and a lot of them have hearing impairments and they rely on lip reading. Wearing a mask, it was often difficult for them to understand or hear what I was saying to them. Often times it was a matter of speaking slower or louder so they can hear us and doing more physical cueing to instruct patients. If a patient had a hearing impairment, I would write instructions on a piece of paper for them to follow.
Describe working with your Occupational Therapy colleagues?
I work with a great group of Occupational Therapists who are always willing to help each other out or answer any questions. We bounce ideas off of each other about treatment plans so we can brainstorm as a group and come up with the best plan of action to support patients.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Niagara Health team responding to the pandemic?
It has been amazing to see how everyone has come together. At the beginning, there were so many unknowns and everyone was very supportive of each other. Niagara Health has been so supportive and offered us resources if we are having a tough time during the pandemic and how to seek help or therapeutic options. The outpouring of support from the community has also been great.
How do you unwind and relax outside of work?
I was doing a lot of home workouts because there was nothing else to do. I was also watching a lot of Netflix. And I am a big football fan and enjoy watching my Buffalo Bills.
Learn more about our Occupational Therapy team here.