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Northern nurses are pillars within the community

'Being a nurse is more than just being a health care provider'
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Lil Bressan describes nurses as pillars within the community.  

"Being a nurse is more than just being a health care provider," she said.  

"A lot of times you are the shoulder for people. You are the mentor, the educator. You become an extended part of your patient's family and you are there from whether it be from the start of life to the end of life; from prevention to treatment.  Being a nurse is not just a job it is a privilege and an opportunity to really keep our communities alive and well." 

Bressan is a Region 11 rep for the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and a public Health Specialist for the Algoma Public Health. 

She was among dozens of nurses who engaged virtually during the RNAO's fall tour which turned virtual this year due to COVID-19.  

"The big theme that came up was the importance of self-care, mental health, and understanding their capacity," she said. 

"Our nurses are working so hard and resources are limited be that in the hospital setting or the public health staff who are working around the clock. This is not a short run it is a marathon that we are in and we really need to support the wellness of our health care providers."  

She notes that if nurses are not well physically or mentally it will impact communities. 

"I think up north we realize that resources are a little bit tighter with or without COVID-19. So we need to community and health care leaders to step up and really make sure we are provided with resources for our nurses and frontline staff as we navigate our way through this." 

Bressan believes recognizing the unknowns is a big hurdle. 

"In the north, even though we are not experiencing what Toronto and big centres are, but we have to realize that we are not immune and that is something as we still need to be vigilant.  

"One thing that helps our staff and nurses is when we see the public really stepping up and following the public health guidelines. It kind of restores that faith that in the north we will make it through as long as everyone keeps vigilant, keep consistent and follow the health guidelines.

"The more we see the public creating that awareness and the more we see those numbers staying low, I think that is one of the key things that keeps our staff going."

But like many nurses, Bressan believes COVID-19 is unpredictable and numbers of cases could escalate.  

At the end of the day, she says those community pillars will be prepared in case it does happen.