Grit and grace: Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare shares stories


A media campaign by the Windsor Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare Hospital shares the personal experiences of more than two dozen staff members who have faced the pandemic in our community.

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When COVID-19 reached Windsor in March 2020, Emmelie Sloan was still finishing her nursing education.

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Rookie RN suddenly found herself having to learn on the job in the midst of a one-of-a-kind pandemic.

“A few weeks after my classes were canceled due to COVID, I was working in a hospital as an unauthorized nurse,” recalls Sloan, now 25.

“I was immersed in the world of COVID even before I graduated. One week, I was a student. The next week I was a medical professional, working through one of the biggest public health crises we’ve seen in a long time. “

Sloan’s story is just one of more than 25 published by Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare as part of the hospital’s Stories of Grit and Grace campaign – a project to share member experiences. of the HDGH team on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19.

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Through social media and a new dedicated webpage (www.hdgh.org/storiesofgritandgrace), members of the public can read first-person testimonials from doctors, nurses, social workers, hospital leaders, etc. with the new coronavirus in our community.

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Janice Kaffer, CEO of HDGH, said the project was designed by the hospital’s communications department with the aim of “turning the conversation” about hospital staff from controversy to celebration. .

“We asked ourselves: how do we mark this moment in the history of our organization? Kaffer said. “We wanted there to be a record.”

“People immediately came forward with very compelling words, very moving stories.”

Kaffer underlined the importance of the two key words in the title of the project: courage and grace. “The grace part is obvious: it is part of our name, of our heritage. But the harshness, the thought of staying strong in the face of the storm – I think that’s an important part of that time that needs to be recounted. “

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Emmelie Sloan, RN at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and a participant in the Stories of Grit and Grace campaign, is pictured on the Tayfour campus on September 28, 2021.
Emmelie Sloan, RN at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and a participant in the Stories of Grit and Grace campaign, is pictured on the Tayfour campus on September 28, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

The stories speak of times of courage, learning and perseverance during the pandemic – but also of honest confessions of fear and mental health issues.

Sloan, for example, remembers her hands shaking so much on her first shift that she couldn’t hold a cup of coffee without spilling it.

“I’ve been in clinical situations that I never thought I would be in,” Sloan said. “Neither my teachers nor I could have prepared myself for what it would be like to try to find your place as a nurse in a viral pandemic. “

Sloan thanks her fellow healthcare workers for helping her through the blaze. “I really relied on the nurses around me. I realized that I was working among highly qualified and experienced professionals. I feel really lucky to have been taken under their wing.

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Even at the top of the HDGH leadership, Kaffer has his own history of frontline determination: In December 2020, when COVID-19 was rampant at The Village at St. Clair long-term care facility, Kaffer and the HDGH Vice President of External Affairs Bill Marra has visited the site personally and regularly to help resolve the situation.

The outbreak in the Village of St. Clair turned out to be the worst of its kind in the region, resulting in 318 confirmed cases among staff and residents, and 63 COVID-related deaths.

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“I was not vaccinated at the time. The vaccines were always coming, ”Kaffer recalls. “I’m getting emotional thinking about it now. Yes, I was scared. But my take was that I couldn’t ask my staff to go to an environment where I could have helped but I didn’t.

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When asked if she hopes Stories of Grit and Grace could convince the vocal minority who have started protesting at hospital sites to oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates and public health measures, Kaffer said that it was not in his thoughts about the campaign.

“It makes me equally angry and sad,” Kaffer admitted of the protests. “But I made the conscious decision to stop talking about the vocal minority. I now focus on these stories of celebration – of human endurance, professionalism and hope.

Sloan said she felt disheartened when she saw the political protests in hospitals. “But they are… the minority. They might be loud, but I know most people adhere to public health. I really hope these stories can resonate with people and help humanize healthcare workers. “

Visit www.hdgh.org/storiesofgritandgrace to learn more, or follow #HDGHStoriesofGritandGrace on social media.

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