“Now, more than ever, nurses deserve recognition,” says Island Health President and CEO, Kathy MacNeil.

Island Health finds it fitting that the Canadian Nurses’ Association theme for National Nurses Week this year is “We Answer the Call.”

Nurses Week 2021 kicked off this past Monday (May 10th) and wraps up tomorrow.

From day one of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Island Health says nurses have continued to stand where they always do – “caring for patients, families, and communities when they need it the most.”

They say nurses are in every part of our health and care system, including hospitals, long-term care homes, and vaccination clinics.

With this in mind, Island Health says their unique contribution to the health and wellness of our region is ever-present.

They say COVID-19 has brought to light more than ever the professionalism, wisdom, knowledge, skill, and compassion that nurses bring to work every day, and the important roles they play in our communities.

And while it’s noted the pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, Island Health says there have been many shining examples of perseverance, resilience, and teamwork. 

Registered Nurse Lizzy Hannah works in the Intensive Care Unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH). When the pandemic hit NRGH, she recalls that many team members were overwhelmed with feelings of the unknown: “Everyday information and policies were changing to accommodate new information about the virus,” she explains.

“We never knew what we were going to be presented with on each shift, and preparing mentally for that was a challenge. We watched in horror as the case numbers and deaths climbed in places like New York and Italy, and it was terrifying anticipating something like that happening on Vancouver Island,” Lizzy says.

“There was the fear of catching the virus ourselves, questioning whether we were wearing adequate Personal Protective Equipment, praying we were not bringing the virus home to our families.” 

As nurses like Lizzy share their experiences through these “unparalleled and extraordinary” times, Island Health president Kathy MacNeil says we must also remember that all nurses are human and have lives of their own.

“They may have their own health issues, be caring for aging parents, home-schooling their children, and experiencing the same fear of isolation and loneliness that has impacted us all,” MacNeil adds. “Now, more than ever, nurses deserve recognition, and Nursing Week presents the perfect opportunity to show appreciation for the nurses in your life.”