By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
HAGERSVILLE—The global COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on healthcare as its frontline workers have had to step up even further to take care of their community. This June, the West Haldimand Hospital and Healthcare Foundation (WHHHF) is giving the community a chance to say thank you.
“Being thankful is a part of all of us. We are grateful for the many amazing things afforded to us, especially our healthcare,” said Penny Banks, Foundation Director. “While many of us are doing our part to keep our community healthy, there is an army of healthcare workers at West Haldimand General Hospital who are on the frontlines making sure we continue to receive exceptional care close to home.”
The ‘Who is your Healthcare Hero?’ campaign will allow residents to show their appreciation by giving a donation to the Foundation in the name of their healthcare hero. Banks believes this campaign will have many benefits, including raising awareness of the “amazing work” being done by West Haldimand General Hospital (WHGH) staff, celebrating the “great community hospital right here at home”, showing healthcare workers how valued they are, and raising much-needed funds for the hospital.
“We chose to run our campaign at this time to provide our patients, their families, and our donors an opportunity to support the hospital at a time when we are faced with unprecedented needs,” explained Foundation Board Chair Ray Hunsinger. “Many people may not know that the government does not pay for medical equipment, so in order for us to continue to provide exceptional care, our role in the Foundation is to raise the funds needed to purchase the equipment required to do this. It would be wonderful if we could raise $100,000 with our Healthcare Hero campaign.”
Banks noted that the hospital’s needs are everchanging, particularly since medical equipment is constantly evolving. WHHHF works to keep WHGH up to date, ensuring they “have the best tools possible to care for patients”. In the past year alone, WHHHF has donated over $300,000 for equipment such as an anesthesia machine and non-invasive blood pressure machines.
“Equipment like this is essential to our physicians, nurses, and techs so they can continue to diagnose and treat our patients,” said Banks.
This equipment is just one piece of many required parts to a well-run hospital. With three floors and 45,000 square feet of space, along with about 180 staff in 14 departments, WHGH is a flurry of activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those seeking treatment at the hospital would interact with multiple departments, from the emergency department physician to ward clerks to lab techs and more, all while housekeeping staff keep things clean and maintenance staff keep things working. While the pandemic has forced the hospital to close certain areas such as outpatient labs, things have only gotten busier.
“Two themes have emerged: constant change and immense stress,” said AnneMarie VanSickle, Director of Emergency, Periop, and MDR at WHGH, of how COVID-19 has changed the hospital. Immediate changes included increased personal protective equipment (PPE), restrictions on people entering the hospital, screening for symptoms on staff and visitors alike, new air filters, and then the addition of a 28-bed unit in case WHGH had to handle significant numbers of COVID-19 patients.
“We have had to rethink our processes from the time a patient arrives at WHGH to the moment they leave. Before COVID, we would rush to the patient. Now we have to stop, don PPE to ensure everyone is protected, and then staff can enter,” added VanSickle. “Previously at the end of your shift, you looked forward to going home; however, now we have nurses who have had to isolate from their families. In our IPU (in-patient unit) visitors are not allowed unless a patient is receiving palliative care; telling a family they cannot visit their loved one in hospital is very challenging. Staff have to lean on each other – to talk, cry, and just feel themselves.”
While there has already been incredible support through donations of PPE, gifts, and meals for which the hospital is so grateful, Banks would “love to see the community show their support with a gift and words of praise and encouragement” for the staff of WHGH during the month of June and beyond.
“Our doctors, nurses, laboratory and pharmacy technicians, infection prevention and control personnel, as well as cleaning and maintenance staff, are our last line of defense against the spread of COVID-19,” said Banks. “At WHGH – like all hospitals around the world – these unsung heroes are doing their utmost to screen, treat, and care for our community under the most challenging of circumstances. Now more than ever it’s more important we recognize our heroes.”
VanSickle is already in awe of the encouragement they’ve seen so far, a testament to what public outreach does for frontline workers: “The outpouring of support from our communities in Haldimand and further has been overwhelming,” said VanSickle. “I honestly don’t know if the public realizes the positive difference they make for each of us in healthcare.”
Donations can be made online at whhhf.ca, by phone at 905-768-3311 ext. 1238, or by mail.