Honouring the University Health Centre Nursing Team

Image for Post

On May 5, 2016, 1200 people moved into Lister — they arrived after spending 1 to 3 days on cots in the open areas of the Expo Centre at Northlands. People were traumatized by having just lost their homes (or not knowing if they had or not), losing their employment, having families separated, leaving pets behind, and in many cases having experienced the ordeal of being stuck in slow moving traffic as they fled the fires and agonized as they watched their community burn.

Many people were evacuated from their workplaces and did not have the opportunity to pick up medications from their homes and had no medical contacts in Edmonton. When I arrived at Lister to volunteer at 6 p.m. on May 5, there were long lines of people seeking health services and housing. At the nursing desk, both physical and mental health issues were being addressed in a manner of calm and assuring compassion that left a mark on me.

During the first days of the evacuation, I worked in Lister, helping in a “store” that dispensed toiletries, diapers, socks, underwear, etc. I heard the stories of many people and I was present when a gastro-intestinal bug added further insult to what the evacuees were dealing with. The nurses did not have enough Gravol or Immodium to provide full packages to hundreds of people as the need was so great. In my “store,” where these medications were dispensed, I had a stock of more than 100 does of these medications, in individual Zip Lock bags. On each bag the nurses had transcribed dosages and the messages that were on the original packaging. This dedication was only surpassed by how they obtained these drugs. On the second day (Saturday) when I arrived in the morning, I parked beside the family of one of the nurses who had just returned from a pharmacy with more medications which the nurses divided up. Several nights I stayed until after 10 p.m., and upon leaving I walked past the nurses’ table where I saw people being treated with sincere respect and care.

The University of Alberta mantras of “uplifting the whole people,” and “for the public good,” are fitting. I have been at the U of A for 30+ years and I have witnessed many events that have been very uplifting (honorary degrees, U School activities, etc.), however these pale in comparison to how so many parts of the U of A came together to support the evacuees. I think it fundamentally marked the brand of the U of A both internally and externally as a “caring institution.” Many of our people have a reputation of being very service oriented, but this was different. People worked side by side helping others and it was not a good feeling… it was a great feeling! This is how I felt seeing the nurses at work in Lister.

In my days working at Lister, I saw many heroes at work volunteering. All of them were valuable. I chose to nominate the nurses for the Community Connections’ Community Leader Award, because in the midst of the chaos, they remained pleasant, helpful, and they gained the trust of people who did not have much of that commodity left. That’s why I’m glad to see Beth Woytas (RN), Terry Scott (RN), Melissa Williams (RN), Crystal Hoven (RN), and Carly Floyd (RN) honoured as the 2017 Community Leader recipients.

Image for Post

Frank Robinson — Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Studies

Frank has been a professor of poultry production and physiology at the University of Alberta since 1986. He has taught in the area of poultry science and general animal agriculture with an emphasis on inquiry-based learning. Frank is a Fellow of the Poultry Science Association and the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. He was inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2006, and is a 3M National Teaching Fellow. He recently completed a term as Vice-Provost and Dean of Students of the University of Alberta.

Community Connections Awards 2017

You can celebrate the University Health Centre Nursing team’s achievement at the Community Connection Awards!

All are welcome to attend.

Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
Time: Noon — 1 p.m.
Where: City Hall

This post has been edited for length and clarity.