Posted: May 22, 2020

In honour of Physiotherapy Month, we're highlighting the work of a few of GRH's hardworking physiotherapists. While their commitment to patient care remains the same, many of their roles have changed as we respond to COVID-19. 

From 6 to almost 25 years of experience, hear from 3 of our physiotherapists on what it's like to provide care during this unprecedented time.

Img 20200521 Physiotherapist Jenna Howie Web

Jenna Howie

How long have you been a physiotherapist? I have been a physiotherapist for 6.5 years.

What is your home unit? I am a full-time physiotherapist (PT) in GRH’s Critical Care Program and a valued member of the interdisciplinary team. Due to the complexity of ICU patients, I am often providing a multi-system approach to patient care and rehabilitation (Ex. Cardiorespiratory, Neurological, Musculoskeletal). 

What are you doing now and how has your work changed with COVID-19? I apply a lot of my usual responsibilities and interventions to manage our ICU patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic so in that sense, a lot of my direct PT practice has not changed. On the other hand, there have been some notable changes that have affected my work over the last couple of months. I have been wearing more or different PPE than I am used to. I took on the challenge with my colleagues to not only work with our COVID-19 patients, but figure out how to combine clinical experience with knowledge acquisition & clinical reasoning in the setting of a new illness to learn how to treat this population effectively. I have also been part of discussions around planning for an expanded ICU, PT roles in different phases of the COVID-19 illness, and how best to support staffing and patients through this time. This included providing in-services and mentorship to my other acute care PTs at GRH to help them learn and/or refresh their Critical Care knowledge & skills. It has been both a challenging and rewarding time through this Pandemic. 

What has been the best experience during COVID-19? I continue to see both my GRH PT & ICU colleagues shine, I’m proud to say I’ve been part of the COVID-19 frontline journey, and I know PT will continue to be an important part in providing exceptional care at GRH.

Physiotherapist Karen Guha

Karen Guha

How long have you been a physiotherapist? I have been a physiotherapist since 1996 so, 24 years 

What is your home unit? My home unit is the Neuro Rehab Clinic at our Freeport Campus

What are you doing now and how has your work changed with COVID-19? During this time I've moved from my home unit to covering units where there is a shortage of staff at Freeport. So far that has included almost every unit – I have been working on UT2 (rehab), UT3 (CCC, ALC units), UT4 (Low intensity Rehab and ALC unit), and GR3 (palliative). I am working on units that I haven’t been on for almost 20 years! Each week we get told where we are being deployed to help out. 

What has been the best experience during COVID-19? I would say it has been nice to see the community rally around and support health care workers. It has also been nice to get to know some of my colleagues a bit more since I’ve had an opportunity to work side by side with them. I think I’ve learned that situations like COVID bring out many emotions with people – really good and really bad – so it is important to remain resilient and hopeful during difficult times.

Img 20200521 Physiotherapist Heidi Clay

Heidi Clay

How long have you been a physiotherapist? 20 years! Since 2000

What is your home unit? I have worked as a physiotherapist clinically for 14 years caring for our patients at GRH.  Approximately 2 years ago, I moved into Employee Health and Wellness where I am supporting our staff, physicians and volunteers.

What are you doing now and how has your work changed with COVID-19? During Covid-19,  I continue to support our staff with return-to-work planning and injury prevention efforts, however I have been presented with some different opportunities over the last 2 months. I am now on a team supporting the staff and patient screening required at our entry doors at KW, Freeport and our 5 satellites. Most recently, I have been seconded to manage the redeployment of GRH staff to assist in long-term care during the Covid-19 pandemic. Outside of my role at GRH,  I am working on completing my Masters in Leadership (Health Specialization).   

What has been the best experience during COVID-19? One of the best things I have experienced during Covid-19 is the opportunity to work with various staff from across the organization in efforts to respond to our hospital’s needs during the pandemic. I have a heightened awareness into the incredible work that all of our GRH departments are doing to contribute to the health and safety of our patients and staff during this unpredictable time. I am encouraged and supported on a daily basis by my Employee Health & Wellness team and others I have come to know during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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