When Marsha Tanner decided to return as a casual relief nurse after retiring from full-time nursing in 2018, it’s safe to say she didn’t expect to be working as often as she is right now. But a global pandemic has a way of changing things.
A resident of Petite Riviere, Nova Scotia, she is now working several hours a week assisting in the primary screening clinic for COVID-19 at South Shore Regional Hospital in nearby Bridgewater. Her role at the clinic includes assessing symptomatic patients, performing screening tests for analysis, and educating them on the truths (and myths) of the virus.
“There is a great deal of misinformation on social media which elevates anxiety in the public. We do our best to help relieve some of that anxiety and fear by sticking to the facts we know,” she notes.
Having completed three field services with Mercy Ships in Madagascar (2016), Cameroon (2017), and Guinea (2018) in various nursing role capacities, Marsha is no stranger to caring for patients who are feeling fearful and anxious about their own personal circumstances. This is status quo for many individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa who come to Mercy Ships seeking hope and healing through free life-changing surgery. As it turns out, her service with Mercy Ships has prepared her well for the current COVID-19 situation.
“It has given me the ability to be understanding, patient and accepting to their own fears. This makes us look deep within ourselves to address our own fears and anxieties we may have especially while working during a crisis such as a pandemic with limited resources – something not new to the world’s poorest nations.”
However, calming the fears of patients is not the only parallel between this season and her time aboard the Africa Mercy. “What has encouraged me during this crisis is the camaraderie and collaboration of people working on the frontlines to support and keep each other lifted up. I found this to be a common practice while serving with Mercy Ships on a day to day basis.”
Mercy Ships Canada deeply appreciates the courageous service of healthcare workers like Marsha and acknowledges the big difference she is making on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19.
Written By: Mark Kitzman