COVID-19 (coronavirus)

How Sunnybrook nurses are adapting to new care approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic

Vanessa Honeywell
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Written by Lindsay Smith

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the health-care system under pressure, and in response, some areas of the hospital have redeployed staff to increase hospital capacity to care for COVID-19-positive patients and those who require critical care.

It has resulted in a team-based approach to patient care on many units. In critical care, this means acute care nurses who traditionally work in other areas of the hospital work alongside trained critical care nurses on the unit to help care for some of the hospital’s most critically ill patients.

Vanessa Honeywell is an acute care nurse who was offered a temporary position in critical care as part of this staff redeployment.

She didn’t hesitate to take it.

“I jumped at that opportunity. I always wanted to specialize in critical care,” she says.

It has been both an exciting and daunting experience, Vanessa says. Since it’s a different approach to care, it took some time to clarify her role and determine how her skills would be most helpful, but she says she has never felt anything less than supported and appreciated by the staff and has learned ‘more than she ever imagined’ in the last 10 months.

“I feel so fortunate to work alongside such highly skilled nurses,” she says. “They are responsible for managing the most critically ill patients and they are exceptional at doing so.”

Working in a critical care setting during a pandemic can be challenging, but ultimately, Vanessa says the work gives her a great deal of fulfillment.

“Knowing that I’m making a difference during the most vulnerable moments of someone’s life,” she says. “Knowing that I am adding value in my own way brings great meaning to my work and my life.”

In fact, the last 10 months have only confirmed Vanessa’s desire to be a critical care nurse, and Sunnybrook is currently sponsoring her to take her critical care certification at George Brown College.​

About the author

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Lindsay Smith