(Originally published in the July 2021 edition of The Walleye Magazine)
Responding to a major public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic has meant a lot of work for the local health-care system. The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has had to adapt to everything from building a specialized ward for COVID-19 patients and implementing screening protocols to changing cleaning and disinfecting procedures—all the while working to fulfill its usual role as the primary hospital in the northwest.
The COVID-19 incident management team at the hospital, consisting of the organization’s top medical and administrative personnel, has been responsible for leading the facility through the past 16 months. Large administrative bodies, however, also need crucial support, and that’s where Amanda Walberg comes in. She’s the self-described “scribe” for the team, and fulfills many roles, like scheduling and preparing materials for meetings, documenting decisions, circulating the numerous information reports, and tracking expenses, as well as providing similar support for the planning and logistics subsections of the management team. We spoke with Walberg about her role.
The Walleye: How big of an undertaking has all of this been?
Amanda Walberg: When COVID was surging, it was really hands-on [with] tight deadlines, and we needed to take everything to action right away and be timely with everything. There are some times where it really was COVID-dependant. I’ve been involved since October and it’s always been a hands-on, very timely and intense role for sure. […] We’re always looking at our region as well as the province and how to help, so it’s always been a very hands-on position.
TW: Take me to one of those “surge” days. What was that situation like?
AW: We have a super high-functioning team, so everyone would drop everything to meet whenever it was needed and when decisions needed to be made. I would work with the incident manager really closely to make sure everything that we needed was ready. There might be a follow-up meeting right after a big IMT [incident management team] meeting where a smaller group needs to take care of something, and I would be involved in all of that. So, just making sure things aren’t forgotten and that everything was taken care of for the hospital.
TW: What sorts of things are you making sure you don’t forget?
AW: Really, you don’t want to forget anything [laughs]. But you’re keeping an eye on triggers and actions that come from the meetings and you don’t want to not follow up on any of the actions. They’re all big decisions that are going to benefit our hospital and our community, so [you’re] making sure that if you need to clarify with the team that we’re all on the same page and not letting anything slip, which everyone’s done an extremely good job of doing.
TW: What do you feel you’ve learned from this experience?
AW: Honestly, I’ve learned so much, I’ve only been at the hospital for under two years, so just understanding how the hospital functions and how […] things involve not only just one department, [but] everywhere. It’s been such a valuable experience to work with the leaders of the hospital and everyone’s so dedicated, and it’s a very motivating and valuable experience.