Kim Harrison

Fall 2020

I am a porter at LHSC’s Victoria Hospital, and specifically a pool porter, which means I move everyone and everything within the hospital walls. Porters are the legs, eyes, ears and heart of the hospital – we are a compassionate, resilient and hardworking bunch. It’s a privilege to be a part of such an amazing team.

When the pandemic hit, some areas in the hospital became eerily quiet, while Portering became busier than ever. I’m pretty sure everyone had Portering Dispatch on speed dial. Our team tagline “Service in Motion” has never felt truer these past months, and the weight of that tagline has never felt heavier.

As screening stations were set up around the hospital, my role was to ensure they had what they needed, particularly personal protective equipment (PPE). Luckily porters are well trained in infection control and PPE protocols, and pride ourselves on caring for the safety of our patients and staff. Each day on my 3-11pm shift, I would walk the same route from station to station delivering supplies to the screening staff that were brought in from other areas of the hospital. Changes in protocol were happening overnight, fueling stress and anxiety. It was a learning curve for all of us to say the least.

The personal toll this virus had on me, and on all those I work with are immeasurable. My daughter has Cystic Fibrosis, and the thought that I became a threat to her because of where I work was terrifying. I went home each day, exhausted mentally and physically. Sleep was quick to come, but never refreshing. I slept in four-hour intervals, and my first waking thought every single day was COVID…in capital letters, like a running news ticker flashing before my eyes. My days off became a routine of headaches and stress hives. I made friendships during this time, and as happens in stressful situations, we became sounding boards for each other. Emotions were high for staff and patients and for family members who could no longer visit their loved ones.

Every staff member showing up for their shift is making immeasurable sacrifices, my hat is off to all of them. I dislike the term ‘new normal’. I prefer to hold out hope for back to normal. Until then, I will show up, put a mask on, adjust and move forward. We are all in this together, and together I believe we’ve got this!

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