Answering the call

When Laura Ginter received a call asking if she would be willing to be redeployed as a registered nurse (RN) at one of Covenant Health’s rural sites, she agreed without a moment’s hesitation.

Alberta had been facing a provincial nursing shortage, largely due to the impacts of COVID-19, and Laura wanted to help.

“This was not mandatory; I could have said no,” says Laura. “But I care deeply about our patients and residents.”

After she hung up the phone, she cried. It had been a while since she last worked as a nurse, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready to go back to the front lines of health care. Laura started her RN career caring for patients in the medicine unit at an Edmonton hospital. Then 13 years ago, she hung up her scrubs and moved to corporate portfolios in human resources and integrated access before landing her current role as corporate lead for quality at Covenant Health.   

Laura was identified by Covenant’s redeployment team due to her RN experience and because she is still an active member of the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA).

Dressed in new scrubs and memory foam high-impact walking shoes, Laura showed up for her first shift in the long-term care unit at St. Mary’s Health Care Centre in Trochu right after Thanksgiving.

“After the end of my 12-hour day, my body was aching. My brain was reeling. I was reliving every detail of the day, checking over my interactions, remembering each resident and marveling at the team’s efficiency.”

RN Linda Ogilvie, who onboarded Laura, says she is impressed with how quickly she has adapted to her new role. “She enjoys her time here and likes interacting with everyone around her. She’s also not afraid to step in and help out on the floor when necessary. It’s always a pleasure to walk in and see she is on.”

Since getting that first call, Laura has travelled to Trochu four times.

“The staff there are truly phenomenal. They are so kind and so accepting. This has been such a great experience.”

Laura also enjoys engaging with the residents. “I was doing a dressing change for a resident who is blind, so I had to tell him everything I was doing. It took a while, but it was a great experience for the both of us. Through our conversation, I found out that he was a survivor of the Second World War. He was six when the German army rolled through his home town in Hungary. His family were taken to Auschwitz, but they survived and were liberated to East Berlin, escaped to West Berlin and eventually made their way to Canada. I would never have had an opportunity for an experience like that.”

In another encounter with a resident couple, Laura was asked why she keeps coming back. She told them it’s because residents are like family to her.  

“If you were my dad, I would want to know that somebody here is looking after you.”

Laura says she’s experiencing fulfillment from returning to her nursing roots. “I’m gaining a lot from this experience. My bucket from going out there is so full.”

While the redeployment is temporary, Laura says she hopes to continue to take shifts in the long term when time permits. “I need to make it work in my current role, but I’d like to continue with this. If this experience hadn’t come up, it would never have crossed my mind that this was missing in my life.”

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