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April 29, 2020

Introducing…a COVID-19 screener

Before COVID-19, Annamaria Tancredi worked at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre (RJCHC) as a physiotherapist in the Children’s Developmental Rehabilitation Program. To contain the spread of COVID-19, RJCHC has temporarily closed and Annamaria has been redeployed to an important role as “screener.”

COVID-19 screening

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has limited the number of accessible entrances at our hospitals and is conducting COVID-19 screening of all patients and visitors. Staff like Annamaria ask a series of questions at designated hospital entrances before people can enter. Depending on their answers (based on symptoms, travel, and contact with others), they may be able to wear a mask and proceed, or be declined entrance into the hospital and provided alternate care information. If a person meets the current definition for COVID-19, staff will begin a special infection-control protocol.

The 37-year HHS employee who usually spends her days working with young children with physical impairments was happy to contribute to these safety efforts during the pandemic. But, she was a little anxious about being on the front-line. “I was also concerned about having to turn away family and friends. Their reactions could range from understanding to anger to sadness. I felt so badly to give that information,” she says.

Coping with COVID-19

In her new role, Annamaria has worked at both Juravinski Hospital & Cancer Centre and Hamilton General Hospital. In her down time, she has been committed to her exercise program and taking time to reflect on a daily basis. She has also found the time to try to recipes, read, and connect on the phone with longtime friends.

“I continually remind myself that we are all in a very fluid environment and that everyone is adjusting moment by moment to new roles and situations. I feel very re-assured that our hospital executives and managers are making decisions with the best interests of patients and staff in mind,” she says. “I also remind myself of how lucky I am to be in a situation where my family are safe and we have the resources to take precautions.”

Annamaria is most looking forward to seeing the children and families she treats and getting back to “the new normal.”

“I’m also looking forward to seeing all the people I interact with at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre each day: the registration staff, the coffee shop employees, my coworkers and our colleagues in the other departments.”

Silver linings

Even in difficult situations, there are silver linings.

“An enjoyable moment occurred at the General Hospital when a woman knocked at the booth and handed me a beautiful potted white phalaenopsis orchid, my favourite. A local flower grower had donated them for staff. I have never been given one before.”

She has also been able to get to know staff from other programs and sites she wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Moving forward

“I would like staff to know that I appreciate how all the new rules and directives are making their work life more demanding, stressful and less efficient. I hope they can understand my role as screener is to follow directives to help make us all safer from possibly acquiring or transmitting COVID-19,” she says.

Her advice to other redeployed colleagues?

“I would suggest finding something that gives you joy and reflect on that each day.”