Bayshore employees reflect on the global pandemic on third anniversary pt. 2

| News and Stories

By Mary Mamak, Communications Specialist

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and the world was plunged into a new reality unlike most of us have ever seen.

Our everyday lives, from work to school to home, drastically changed within days. Despite all the challenges, Bayshore’s 18,000 staff working on the frontlines, as logistics support, in pharmacies, warehouses, offices and clinics, all rose to the challenge.

On the three-year anniversary of the global pandemic, we asked our staff about their most enduring memory of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they had to say:

Stephanie Ste. Denis, Nursing Supervisor, Bayshore Home Health, Ottawa:

“I remember feeling emotionally drained by the fear of keeping my loved ones safe while working overtime in places that were experiencing an outbreak. I also remember having to cancel my trip to Africa because my flight got cancelled, and the entire country went into lockdown and having to work over a year without being able to take a single day off.”

Lynn Roger, Chief Human Resources Officer, Bayshore HealthCare:

“I was not working in March 2020, having just retired from my career in financial services. While I felt more confined than usual, I did feel very fortunate to be spending a lot of time with my husband. We took long walks with our dogs, baked a lot, did some exercise and basically enjoyed each other’s company. What we did find most difficult is the inability to spend face to face time with family. My daughter and her young family live in Quebec City, while her twin sister leaves nearby in Burlington. Notwithstanding the distance and COVID restrictions that kept us apart, we had daily facetime calls including Christmas and Birthday dinners over Zoom. We learned to stay connected and I think it’s what made us more resilient.”

Cheryl Metcalfe, Director, Ontario Home Care Therapy Services:

“How all of my therapy staff were determined to provide the best service to their patients, no matter how afraid they felt and despite the many restrictions placed on their ability to provide face to face therapy.  And how scared I was for them but how proud I was at the same time. They are truly professionals who care.”

Barbara-Anne Maier, Director, Clinical Operations CareChart/Carepath:

“I was not employed at Carepath/Bayshore then, but I had a beautiful, healthy granddaughter born on March 13, 2020. I was blessed to see her on my way to work at a cancer centre before the lockdowns of hospitals and cancer centres. I look back on this amazing opportunity of goodness before the many challenges of the following days and months.”

Kerry Bowman, Employee Experience Owner, Bayshore HealthCare:

“Homeschooling my children. We researched educational games and worksheets and encouraged our kids to try new foods by doing blind taste tests. It was added stress, and we were happy when it ended, but it solidified our family unit.”

Rob Haworth, Portfolio Manager, Bayshore Specialty Rx:

“I was so thankful that I had an awesome job and worked for an organization like Bayshore, which allows individuals to work from home. I saw far too many friends go into debt and had others financially crippled by the pandemic. My family and I were one of the fortunate ones.”

Karen Bushell, Area Director, Bayshore Home Care Solutions, Kitchener:

“Having to work from home was so new and something I don’t enjoy.  It was difficult every day to keep my team engaged, to be positive and “love going to work”.   One enduring memory is the support my spouse provided me.  He knew working from home was a challenge for me.  Each day he made sure to do one thing for me that I would have if I was in office; bringing me tea, making me lunch, phoning me sometimes from the other room and making sure I got away for a break.”

Lisa Newman, Area Director, Bayshore Home Care Solutions, Winnipeg:

“For me, COVID-19 provided an opportunity. Unlike many of my friends and other family members, my experience has been good.

At the start of the pandemic, I worked as a Manager of Community Programs and Acute Home Care support for the current Winnipeg Government funder, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). At the start, I was detailing the community’s needs, trying to hold onto community services when COVID-19 took over the program’s ability to support the community. Many staff were deployed to LTC, and Acute ICU, based on their current scope of practice and intense needs. I worked daily at the Grace General Hospital in Winnipeg, supporting the Home Care department, to keep the flow of clients going back to the community and open much-needed beds. 

During this timeframe, I was approached about the Bayshore Area Director role that was at the time vacant for the Winnipeg Government Brach. This was in May of 2021. I was very interested as I had worked in Home Care for over 17 years, and this was an excellent opportunity to provide much-needed support for client service. After interviewing and meeting many Bayshore members, I was offered the position and started with Bayshore on June 21, 2021. 

Now working with the funder side-by-side, the Winnipeg Government branch has grown and been able to support not only home care but helps with mental health and, most recently, palliative care. Our branch rebuilt better during COVID-19, and we are the most recognized agency with our funder, WGRA, for growth and continued service, during and post-pandemic.” 

Tina Learmonth, Area Director, Bayshore Home Care Solutions, New Brunswick

“Fear and determination. 

I am so proud of the work done at Bayshore and especially in New Brunswick…our teams leaned in when other agencies were saying no.  We took care of our neighbours and truly made a difference in our community.

I was so afraid my children would have negative lasting memories of this time.  My husband and I decided to do our best to control the narrative in our home. We bought a $159 firepit at Costco for our back deck to make memories. COVID 19 will forever always bring with it memories of roasting marshmallows and laughter with my family every season, even in the snow. Best $159 I have ever spent. so many marshmallows have been consumed.”

Katherine Grant, Area Director, Bayshore Home Care Solutions, Simcoe County:

“For me, COVID initially had me reflecting on my personal and professional experience with SARs. I took a look at our rosters here in Simcoe and found that a significant number of my peers who were part of SARs with me, were still here.  Nurses, Home Support and Admin Staff; we lived through SARs so we would live through COVID.  As the pandemic continued, the professionalism and pride these same committed team members demonstrated, yet again, became abundantly clear.  My memory is the pride I felt in the dedication and commitment to care, and to each other, that all our staff showed.

This is why we work for Bayshore.  We believe in Bayshore, in who we are as Bayshore and that we are Strongest Together.”

Aleksandra Filipovic, National Director, Diabetes Express & BSRx Purchasing

“Friday March 13th, 2020 was the beginning of the biggest change in both my Bayshore family and my direct family’s life. BSRx kicked into the ‘Get it done’ mode, we worked together as a group to find PPE, continue to dispense, and pack orders for those who needed us the most.  We had brave people who came in every day, knowing they were potentially risking themselves for the better good and will always have my respect and gratitude.  They were and still are my heroes.

I was also given something on that March 13th – my family.  I am passionate about my work and the people we help.  Some people may refer to this as a workaholic mentality.  I love what I do – and sometimes that love took away from those who I loved.  The pandemic gave me something I could never give myself – time with my children.  I realized I could do it all – find satisfaction of working hard but also being a mother I always wanted to be. “

Keena Naik, National Director, Bayshore Home Health

“I remember the fear and anxiety but also the resilience, commitment, and creativity of all Bayshore teams in getting the problems solved (finding PPE, alleviating fears in clients and employees, and most importantly getting the job done). Also how we all looked out for each other while we were managing all of this.”

Daniel Scholz, Tax Manager

“I really enjoyed helping people out with the difficulty of transitioning to working from home so suddenly. When Covid lockdowns happened [at my previous job] I tried to lighten the mood by sending tips out to help ease the transition.  I got really busy and had to stop after #11 but they went over really well. It’s actually really weird going back and seeing the day-by-day uncertainty we all had. Crazy times! Hopefully never again.”