Carol Piche usually works for the Saskatchewan Health Authority as a Youth Wellness worker in her hometown of La Loche. But this spring, she was one of the many local staff members filling different roles to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in her community after an outbreak began.
“As a community member, I felt scared, anxious, frustrated, worried… It was a very stressful time,” she admitted. Her parents are both in their 70s, and her daughter works as a paramedic in La Loche – she worried about them all, as well as her three grandchildren. She wasn’t the only member of her household who was busy, either. “I have a supportive husband who was very busy with security on and off our reserve,” she said.
Soon after the outbreak was declared, SHA staff in the community were told others would be coming to their community to help.
“I was very grateful,” Piche said of the notice. “We have a wonderful young public health nurse who had just started a month prior to all the cases of COVID-19. I’m grateful to her for all the hard work she did.”
Staff from the rest of Saskatchewan started to show up in La Loche to help just a few days later.
“When we first started seeing all the nurses come through the front doors of the health centre, I was in awe,” Piche said. “I couldn’t believe all these beautiful people could come from all across the province to help us in our northern town that doesn’t even have a motel. Their compassion, open hearts, incredible desire to help people they have no personal ties to goes to show that humanity still exists,” Piche said.
Piche was proud to welcome other professionals to her hometown.
“I personally wanted to make each and every nurse feel comfortable and truly cared for,” she said. “I wanted each of them to feel safe and supported and, most of all, to feel like family.”
Her regular duties put aside because of the outbreak, Piche helped with contact tracing, coordinating door-to-door visits, and helping the nurses navigate the town. They worked hard; days off were rare. And they bonded.Friendships were formed while the teams were working so closely together, for so many days, as well as a foundation of trust and respect.
“Each nurse took their time with every person. Nothing was ever rushed. I really respect that. Each individual was treated with the utmost respect.”
Piche has worked in the health field for over 20 years, but never has she experienced anything like the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Nobody could have planned for this, the way and how quickly it happened,” she said. “But it sure was something to be proud of, the way it turned out.”
Piche is grateful to those who came to La Loche to help.
“Thank you so much for helping my community in its time of need,” she said. “And thank you to all who were a part of our COVID-19 outbreak journey – because that’s what it was: a journey.”