Hospital Celebrates National Nursing Week: May 6-12

National Nursing Week draws attention to nurses, increasing the awareness of the public, policy-makers and governments of the many contributions of nursing to the well-being of Canadians.

National Nursing Week draws attention to nurses, increasing the awareness of the public, policy-makers and governments of the many contributions of nursing to the well-being of Canadians.

In 1971, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) designated May 12, the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, as International Nurses Day. In 1985, the Canadian government chose to celebrate the profession by having the week containing May 12 proclaimed as National Nursing Week annually.

In 2019, National Nursing Week will be celebrated at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (our Hospital) with events that recognize the vital contribution nurses make to the delivery of quality patient care, not only in Thunder Bay but across Northwestern Ontario. Our Hospital will also be featuring some of the many dedicated nurses that help us deliver exceptional care and who always put patients first.

The theme, developed by the ICN, is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All. According to the ICN, A Voice to Lead reflects the fact that “every nurse has a story and every story has the potential to improve the health system and enable individuals and communities to achieve their highest attainable standard of health. From these insights comes the power for change.” Health for All means “not just the availability of health services, but a complete state of physical and mental health that enables a person to lead a socially and economically productive life.”

Alyssa Cuglietta, RN: 3B and 3C Surgical Units

Alyssa Cuglietta works on 3B and 3C, two of our Hospital’s very busy nursing units where she provides care to patients undergoing a wide range of general and complex surgical procedures. The surgical unit staff are experienced in caring for patients with post-operative complications including pain management and wound care, as well as chronic health conditions such as diabetes and peripheral vascular disease that can complicate recovery from surgery. “I enjoy the variety of the patients that I care for and the chance to use a wide range of nursing skills”, said Cuglietta.

Brittany Parsons, RN: 2A Medical Unit

The 2A Medical Unit provides care to adult patients with a variety of general medical needs. Nurses provide care to patients, age 17 and older, with a wide variety of illnesses and co-morbid medical conditions. Many patients live with chronic conditions such as diabetes, obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney failure, which can be the cause of a medical crisis, resulting in hospitalization. Despite the challenges of working on 2A, Brittany Parsons likes what she does. “I enjoy taking care of my patients and working with the 2A staff”, said Parsons.

Grace Fox, Nurse Practitioner: Cardiology Program

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice Registered Nurses educated at the Master’s level. As an NP specializing in Cardiology, Grace Fox is the link between her patient and the Cardiologist on a day-to-day basis. She plays an important role in dealing with her patient’s on-going medical issues, educating patients and their families about the nature of their illness and connecting them to the services they will need at home following their discharge from the Hospital. Grace is a highly respected professional who leads by example. She helps to train NP program students and she holds important leadership positions with the College of Nurses of Ontario (the regulatory body for nurses of Ontario).  National Nursing Week is an opportunity for us to recognize the exemplary professionalism and commitment to outstanding patient care demonstrated by Grace and her nursing colleagues.

Janey Pellegrino, RN: 2C Cardiology and Stroke Inpatient Unit

Janey Pellegrino has been a Registered Nurse (RN) since 2004. She works on the 2C Cardiology and Stroke Unit, and also has experience working in the recovery area of the Cardiac Cathlab.

2C nurses work on a fast-paced, dynamic in-patient unit caring for cardiovascular and stroke patients. They use a multitude of clinical pathways for different medical diagnosis such as congestive heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, and stroke pathways which help guide them and their patients through each hospital stay. Nurses on 2C have undergone extra training to care for the Regional Stroke Unit patients which account for 12 out of the 41 inpatient beds. Janey has extra training with interpreting telemetry and caring for post angioplasty patients in the outpatient angioplasty recovery unit. Janey prioritizes and uses her critical thinking skills every shift she works. What she loves most about her job are the people she encounters on every shift, the patients, their families and her 2C team.

Troy Balec, RN, and Deb McCormack, RN, Surgical Day Care

Troy Balec thrives in the fast paced, high patient turnover environment of the Surgical Day Care (SDC) department at our Hospital.

SDC nurses care for patients before and after same-day surgery, as well as patients undergoing certain outpatient diagnostic procedures. Patients recovering from endoscopies and colonoscopies spend time here as well. One of Troy’s most important responsibilities is post-operative education for patients and their families. Explaining how to care for one’s self after surgery and knowing how to best avoid post-operative infection and how to manage post-operative pain are all important lessons that Troy passes on to his patients before they are discharged from the Hospital.

“To work in SDC, a nurse needs a strong background in surgical nursing and a real desire to help people through a very stressful process,” said Balec. “Sometimes a sense of humour can be very important too.”

Deb McCormack first began developing her surgical nursing expertise on the 3 South and 5 South Surgical units at McKellar General Hospital. She went on to work on two surgical units at our Hospital, 3A and 3B. Currently, Deb is the Charge Nurse for the Surgical Day Care unit, one of the busiest nursing units of its kind in Ontario. As Charge Nurse, Deb is the unit problem solver, coordinator and nursing expert, who along with a dedicated team of nurses, makes sure that patients receive excellent care before and after surgery, until they are discharged home. When asked what she likes most about her job, McCormack said, “I enjoy the fast pace and the variety of surgical cases.”

Jodi Illson (Eusepi), RPN: Adult Mental Health

Jodi Illson (Eusepi) has been a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) since 2006. She works on the Adult Mental Health Unit, and also has experience working in the Maternal Newborn Unit.

Jodi has made a difference in many patients’ lives by working as an integral member with the mental health team at our Hospital.  RPNs are responsible for the provision of high-quality, patient and family centred nursing care working with a highly acute mental health and /or addictions patient population. Jodi helps people learn to manage their illnesses and support their recovery journey. She enjoys her job immensely.

Kelly Wrigley, RN: Cardiac Cathlab

Kelly Wrigley has been a Registered Nurse (RN) since 2007, starting out on the 1A Oncology Unit and in the Regional Cancer Centre.  She then went on to expand her nursing skills and talent in the Cardiac Cathlab where she has worked for the past five years.

The Cathlab nurses care for patients before and after their angiogram, angioplasty or pacemaker procedure. Patients who are undergoing transesophageal echocardiograms are also cared for and recovered by the Cathlab nurses.

“Our teamwork, our close knit group and ultimately the positive outcomes we help provide to patients,” said Wrigley when asked about what she enjoys the most about her job. “Working in the Cathlab is 100%, without a doubt, a job that requires a great deal of teamwork. Without one of the essential staff members, a case could not be done.”

Kelly loves the direct impact that she and her colleagues are able to have on a patient’s life. For example, patients come in to the Cathlab from the emergency department actively having a heart attack. Within minutes, the Cathlab team is able to locate the blocked artery in the heart and open it up, restoring blood flow and improving the patient’s clinical symptoms.

“In addition the impact we have medically, I feel like we make a difference each day by helping to calm the nerves of our patients undergoing this procedure,” added Wrigley. “Most patients are pretty nervous as we wheel them into the lab and we really take pride in being able to talk to the patients and help them through the “scariness” and unknown.”

Peter Hayes, RN, Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): Emergency Department

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is an advanced practice nurse who works with nursing staff to advance nursing practices, improve patient outcomes, and provide clinical expertise. Collaboration with other health care professionals and service providers is another important part of the CNS role. Before becoming a CNS, Peter Hayes worked as an Emergency Department staff Registered Nurse and later as a department Charge Nurse.  Along the way, he also held temporary assignments involving hospital accreditation, utilization and process improvement projects. Peter plays an important role in the orientation and development of newly hired staff and nursing students doing placements in the department. “The work can be very challenging but we have a great team of nurses, physicians and other staff who provide the best patient care”, said Hayes when asked what it is like to work in one of the busiest Emergency Departments in Canada.

Stephanie Crawford, RPN: 2B Medical Unit

Stephanie Crawford has worked as a nurse since 1993. She started her career on the 6 East Medical Unit at Port Arthur General Hospital, and later worked as a part of the Nursing Float Team at McKellar General Hospital. Her career path has also included working in long term care at Beacon Hill Lodge. Stephanie currently works on 2B Medicine at our Hospital with patients whose ages can range from young adult to centenarian, and who can have very complex medical histories including both chronic and acute conditions. For Stephanie, National Nursing Week marks a 26 year commitment to helping patients and their families.

Tracy Krieg, RPN: 3C Surgical Unit

Like every nurse who works on the 3C Surgical Unit, Tracy Krieg has learned to adapt. As a surgical nurse, she knows that her patient assignment can change drastically throughout her shift. She must be prepared for rapid changes in their daily routines, short notice transfers to the Operating Room or re-scheduled diagnostic tests. To deliver the best patient care, Tracy has learned to be organized but also flexible. The demand for hospital beds sometimes means that patients, who might normally be admitted to a medical nursing unit, need to be admitted to the 3C Surgical Unit. These situations require nurses to use a wide range of nursing skills. “It is seeing the progression of my patients and their discharge home,” said Krieg, when asked what she likes best about working on the 3C Surgical Unit.

Nurses Working as Clinical Informatics Specialists

At our Hospital, a very special group of nurses work as Clinical Informatics Specialists. Clinical Informatics is the field that works with data and technology to improve patient care. These nurses help develop clinical information systems from computerized patient records to decision support systems and ensure that these systems run smoothly. Michelle Richardson, Kevin Melenchuk, Anna Buske and Michael Conrad (pictured, from left to right) are all RNs who bring with them extensive experience as nurses in a variety of clinical specialties. These nurses apply that extensive clinical knowledge to their work with other clinicians and technology to support the delivery of care at our Hospital, St. Joseph’s Care Group and other health care facilities across Northwestern Ontario.

Dr. Valerie Grdisa, RN, BScN, MS, PhD: Executive Vice President of Research, Quality & Academics and Chief Nursing Executive

Dr. Valerie Grdisa joined our Hospital and Research Institute as the new Executive Vice President of Research, Quality & Academics and Chief Nursing Executive on April 1st, 2019.

Dr. Grdisa is a member of our Hospital’s Senior Leadership Council and provides leadership, oversight and strategic direction to health professionals and scientists in the areas of research and development, quality improvement, professional practice, patient and family centred care and academics.

For more than 25 years, Dr. Grdisa has held positions as a clinician, Registered Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner, middle and senior manager, faculty and academic administrator, management consultant, and senior government official. Most recently, she led several Ministry-funded programs focused on quality improvement and evidence-based practices and was the Chair of Ontario’s Chief Nursing Officer Knowledge Exchange network.

Dr. Grdisa has also had the privilege of interacting with Indigenous communities throughout her career and helped co-create strategies to improve health system performance and population health outcomes. The experience and enthusiasm that she brings to her role will be of tremendous value to the overall scientific, quality improvement, and academic mission of our Hospital and Health Research Institute.