A senior military nurse who has been deployed to Alberta to help overworked hospital staff caring for COVID-19 patients says she hopes to see the day when people’s smiling faces will replace masks and family and friends will could be assembled safely.
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May. Amy Godwin, 38, leads a team of eight nurses as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ LASER operation at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.
“The province of Alberta has requested Canadian armed forces (assistance) in the COVID climb that is underway,” Godwin said during an interview in the hotel lobby, where she is staying for a month with her team.
“That’s why we’re here.”
She requested that the name of the hotel not be made public due to security issues.
There are more than 18,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, down from a peak of about 22,000.
While the number of people in hospital and ICU admissions remains at an all-time high, hospital admissions, cases, and critical care patients have either plateaued or declined slightly.
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Public Safety Canada has said that the Canadian Red Cross also plans to send up to 20 doctors, some with intensive experience, to reinforce or relieve staff.
“There are no longer any hospitals in the Canadian Armed Forces, so … in order for our nurses to have the acute and critical experience they need, we are working in partnership with other civilian hospitals,” said the uniformed Godwin.
“So these nurses have been exposed to COVID patients during the pandemic, and they are well-trained and ready to support Alberta through this time.”
Godwin said she and the other nurses who have been deployed from across the country, including Ontario and Nova Scotia, had their first briefing this week and will work until Oct. 31.
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The military and Alberta Health Services will then reassess whether the nurses should stay. If asked to stay, Godwin said she would be happy for it.
“If you’re on a mission and it’s being extended, the first step would be for the members to keep picking up new members because it would require significant briefing … so ideally the team that’s here would stay. “
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Godwin, who lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children, said all Canadians were tired of the pandemic, but she would not exactly say she was exhausted.
After … you go back to your families, (it is) when you might feel more tired. But when you’re here … you just do what you have to do.
“That’s my mentality here.”
Godwin, who previously worked at Role 3 Multinational Hospital at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, said her nurses will work days and nights in 12-hour shifts.
She said she could not answer questions about the condition at Alberta’s hospitals, which have relied on some aspects of triaging patients.
She added that she supports vaccines, although that is not what she and her colleagues are here for.
“It’s not part of our mission, and we are not going to pursue it in any way.”
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Albertans have been very accommodating, she said, even though she has only left the hotel and hospital to get food since she arrived five days ago.
She said, like all Canadians, that the pandemic has touched her life, but going through the same challenges as others makes her feel connected to them and helps her maintain her mental well-being at work.
“An important piece for healthcare providers during this is to understand that they are not alone. There are other people going through it. Communicate and do not be ashamed if there has been a hard day. ”
– With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News
© 2021 The Canadian Press