Learn more about how screeners help keep staff and patients safe.
Lizzy Sparling waits just inside the Emergency Department entrance at Whitehorse General Hospital as patients, visitors and winter air flow through the doors.
She kindly offers each person a face mask if they’re not already wearing one, asks them to sanitize their hands and runs through a list of important questions about COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors before offering directions and telling them to have a great day.
Lizzy is one of many screeners working in Yukon’s three hospitals. Providing both a friendly first impression for patients and visitors and an important safety measure, screeners have played a critical role in supporting a territory-wide response to the pandemic.
“Screeners help patients and visitors feel safe the moment they enter the hospital,” says Kevin Caron, Visitor Coordinator at Yukon Hospitals. “The first thing someone sees is that we’re closely following safety protocols and ensuring patients can access the care they need as quickly and smoothly as possible. Especially during a pandemic, screeners offer a sense of calm with a warm welcome, some help finding directions and an emphasis on safety.”
Patient care a family affair
Lizzy is a born-and-raised Yukoner whose mother has worked as a nurse at Yukon Hospitals for nearly 30 years. She moved home from Vancouver in May and jumped at the opportunity to work at Whitehorse General Hospital. Currently studying anatomy and physiology in preparation for her nursing school application, the job provided a perfect chance to work with healthcare professionals while helping people at the same time.
“Helping people has always been my motivation, which comes from watching my mother work as a nurse and through family experiences where nurses gave incredible care to loved ones in tough times,” says Lizzy. “The best part of the job is seeing patients when they get to go home,” she adds. “I’m talkative, so over time, I get to know some of the people, and to see them get the care they need and be excited to go home is an awesome experience.”
She adds that the role also has its challenges.
“It’s tough telling visitors in some situations that they can’t visit their loved ones, and we have to explain that protocols and restrictions are in place to keep patients and staff safe,” she says. “We’re the messengers, and sometimes the message is a tough one. We work hard to be sensitive and accommodating to peoples’ needs while ensuring we keep people safe.”
Rapid response to new pandemic protocols
Screeners have been stationed at the main entrances of Yukon’s three hospitals since March 2020, at the outset of the pandemic. The role of the screener was created quickly as a temporary response to a heightened risk environment. Within one week, screeners were recruited, trained and in place in all three hospitals. In less than a year, the screener team has expanded to 23 term employees across all three hospitals. While relaxed pandemic restrictions will reduce the need for screening at all hospital entrances, at this time the team continues to help keep patients, staff and the public safe and ensure the continuity of services.
“This time last year, screeners didn’t exist in our hospitals,” says Helen Christiansen, Manager, Corporate Responsibility. “Now, they have upwards of 1,000 interactions per day at entrances across all three facilities. Screeners play an integral role in our hospitals and we thank them for helping our teams provide safe and excellent care and adapting quickly to evolving public health measures and hospital protocols.”
Thank you to all screeners for your efforts to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe!