It was Mei Wen’s first day as a resident in the BC Children’s Emergency Department and she made sure she was on time.
“The buses were delayed by an hour, but I still made it,” she laughs.
The registered nurses from BC Women’s Labour and Delivery unit as well as the Urgent Care Centre are matter-of-fact when they’re thanked for making it to work during bad weather.
“It’s my job,” says Nancy Burchill.
Her co-worker, Annabella Tsan, took extra precautions so she didn’t get caught in the weather and miss her shift.
“Annabella is so dedicated that she slept here overnight and she was late by two minutes because she overslept,” Burchill jokes.
(Left: Annabella Tsan slept overnight at BC Women's)
Antepartum Nurse Lisa Smolock woke up at 3 a.m. and drove three hours to get in from Maple Ridge to be at the hospital by 6 a.m. Labour and Delivery Charge Nurse Aman Vashist woke up at 4 a.m. to shovel for an hour before spending an hour and a half on the road to get to work.
Many Children’s and Women’s workers have long commutes and leave early when traffic chaos is part of the weather forecast. BC Women’s Labour and Delivery nurses Harveen Randhawa and Sydney McDougall both left home at about 5 a.m. to get to work on time.
“We’re so grateful for the extraordinary efforts people are making – from leaving early, to ridesharing or sleeping over,” says Cheryl Davies, Chief Operation Officer for BC Women’s. “It speaks to the passion and commitment staff and care providers have for their work, colleagues and patients and families. We’re so touched by that.”
BC Women’s Urgent Care Centre Pauline Fleming and Audrey Osborne say they’re only able to power through the weather and make it to work with support of their families. Their husbands know patients are depending on them and help them prepare for their trip. In the wee hours of the morning, they’ll clear snow off their car, shovel the driveway and brew coffee.
Alison Lee, an emergency fellow and senior trainee at BC Children’s, lives near the hospital, but decided to drive because she’s pregnant and didn’t want to take the chance that she’d slip and fall. Her usual three-minute drive took 40 minutes.
“I anticipated that so I left early and got here at 8:05,” she says.
Emergency Triage Nurse Sajeeda Kuthdoos and Emergency Registration Clerk Samantha Siu also both left early to make it through the snow.
“I know it’s hard on my other co-workers if they have to find someone to replace me,” says Siu.
Emergency Physician Badri Narayan lives in Kitsilano and his usual quick drive turned into a walk to the bus stop, a bus ride to the SkyTrain and a staff shuttle from the Skytrain to the BC Children’s Emergency Department.
“It’s just too slippery to drive,” Narayan says. “The staff shuttle from King Edward SkyTrain station was actually pretty useful.”
Emergency RN Dana Pierotti lives in Yaletown and was one of the many employees who plowed through the compact snow with the rest of traffic inching along the roads.
“We appreciate all the juggling people do to make it to work on time for their patients,” says Sarah Bell, Chief Operating Officer for BC Children’s and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children. “I also want to give a shout out to those who stay late to wait for co-workers who’ve been held up. We’re all in this together and you can really feel that.”
Dedicated volunteers also took the time to think through their commute well before their start time.
“The SkyTrain stopped working so we had to transfer to another train. Then I waited for the bus for 40 minutes,” says Navigation Volunteer Joban Rai. “There were just no buses coming, but I got here right on time.”
Fellow Navigation Volunteer Janie Pang turned down a call from her paid work at Langara College to fulfill her volunteer shift.
“I’d already committed to volunteer and I didn’t want to put that pressure on the volunteer organizers,” says Pang. “I was worried some of the other volunteers might not be able to get here.”
Gift Shop Volunteer Manager Stacy Smith lives in North Vancouver, but stayed overnight at her sister’s in Vancouver to make sure she could make it to the hospital.
"My first customer was a little boy who had to get up walking after his surgery," says Smith. "They walked to the gift shop so I'm glad I could be here for them."
“Volunteers go the extra mile to get here,” says Mary MacKillop, Director of Patient Experience. “They will move mountains to do what they need to do to be here.”
As a thank you to staff and volunteers for going above and beyond, hospital leaders handed out hot chocolate and goodies to at least 200 workers.
Read the Vancouver Sun/Province story on C&W staff commitment to patients during the B.C. snowstorm:
More shots of just some of the staff who took getting to work in the snow to heart: