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A case for leadership during COVID-19

Daizy Naf on how a small-town, long-term care home faced a global pandemic.

Our small-community, long-term care home in rural Eastern Ontario began preparing for the worst when a global pandemic was declared in March 2020, with Susan Poirier, RN, our Administrator at the helm.

During our first staff huddle after the announcement, Susan reiterated the importance of proper hand hygiene. She encouraged social distancing, an unfamiliar term then, but one that has now become a frighteningly casual part of the global lexicon.

When I asked Susan if wearing masks would soon become standard protocol, she didn’t answer. But I knew the wheels were turning behind her pensive blue eyes. 

Sure enough, we were all masked for our shifts the following week-long before Public Health made it mandatory. Shortly after that, our staff members had to choose only one home to work so as not to become a vector between homes, again initiating a preventative effort before it was mandated. 

I knew our lives were in good hands. Susan soon implemented a rule requiring staff to change into and out of their scrubs when entering and exiting the building. The leadership team rationed and stock-piled PPE in preparation for an outbreak. They created cross-training manuals for staff in case nurses, or PSWs had to be recruited to the kitchen to help with meal prep or housekeeping.

Susan hit the ground running and has kept us safe. There are outbreaks in 17 homes in our region. We are currently one of three homes not experiencing an outbreak. (As of writing.) 

What’s more, we haven’t had one single resident contract the virus, nor have any of our permanent staff. 

Susan encouraged us to dress in blue to support the Bell Let’s Talk mental health awareness campaign because she understood how vital mental hygiene is to all of those who step foot into the facility to care for our beloved elderly residents. 

Last week, we were the lucky recipients of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. The execution of what could otherwise have been a stressful and chaotic ordeal was absolutely seamless.

Approximately 300 residents, staff, physicians and essential caregivers were inoculated within six hours. We all contribute to the success of our home but having strong leadership is absolutely essential. Thank you, Susan Poirier, for consistently making us feel safe at work.

About Daizy Naf

Daizy Naf, RPN, has been nursing for over two years at Dundas Manor LTC in Winchester, Ontario. She graduated from St. Lawrence College, Cornwall campus, in 2018, and now teaches the long-term care clinical rotation to Practical Nursing students at the Brockville campus. Daizy is currently enrolled in Nipissing University’s RPN to BScN bridging program and is interested in becoming Gerontology Practical Nurse Certified by the Canadian Nurses Association.

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