My name is Chantal Kozinski, I am a Licensed Practical Nurse. I work at the Turtleford Hospital, primarily in acute care and in the emergency department.
As a nurse in a rural hospital, we have experienced COVID-19 in a very different way than some of the more urban centres. We are seeing COVID-19-positive patients prior to their official diagnosis or shortly after they have received their positive results, essentially at the beginning of their journey with this virus.
Due to the fact our facility is very high traffic with multiple-discipline teams working in one place, we have to be quite strict with our screening protocols. This in itself can be stressful and time consuming. I and my co-workers take great pride in maintaining a safe environment for each other and all of the patients we see. I would just like to say a huge thank you to our manager for her strength and leadership navigating all of this year’s unknowns.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I personally have experienced a wide range of emotions. In the beginning, there was a lot of fear; it was new, not a lot was known about this virus.
The fear I felt most in the beginning was for my nursing friends working in the cities and the COVID-19 centers. They were in the thick of it right away. I also feared for the mental health of my family. So many unknowns surrounding COVID, and after hearing the news reports, my youngest daughter (who was 8 at the time) said, “Mom, it’s just like you are going to war against COVID.”
Once the initial fear wore off and the realization that the COVID-19 fight was going to be a long one, I found myself mentally relaxing. The masking and extra gowning at work became second nature. Policies and protocols changed daily; this became the most daunting thing. As a rural facility, we didn’t have our first positive case in our coverage area until about six months into the pandemic. With that, the fear hit again. The emotional rollercoaster the last half of 2020 had us riding was something I have never experienced in my 20-year career.
I have to admit, once the talk of the vaccine first started, I myself was hesitant. I had all of the same concerns and questions that everyone else did. I turned to science to try and ease my mind and help me make my decision. Science really is a wonderful thing. Drug companies working together for a common goal. No battle to see who would come out on top first. Money poured into COVID-19 vaccine research around the world, allowing the scientists to do what they do best. My decision was made – I was all for getting my shot.
Then, there I was, Christmas morning, watching our kids open presents happy as ever. At 9 a.m. my phone rang: I had been in contact with my first COVID-19 positive patient. My heart stopped for a moment. I retraced my shift in my head. I had been alone in our COVID room for four hours with my patient. For me, that experience meant the vaccine could not get here soon enough.
Fast forward a month, and on January 21 I was scheduled for my first vaccine. However before that day, I would hear those same words four more times: “Chantal your patient has tested positive for COVID.”
Our hospital’s first vaccination day was one of the proudest days of my entire career. I was part of the vaccinating team. So not only did I receive my vaccine, I was part of a group that provided 76 other individuals their first dose of their vaccine. It was a beautiful day. The air was light; there was hope, relief and tons of laughter. All of which have been not so common throughout this COVID-19 war.
Going forward, my hope is that more people turn towards, and trust science. Throughout history science has proven itself time and time again, and now with COVID-19,
science deserves our trust again.