Charm Eres stands at the main entrance of the Jim Pattison Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital as a long line forms out the door. One by one, she patiently asks people to sanitize their hands and provides them with a medical mask if they don't already have one. She thanks them for their patience and asks if they're experiencing any COVID-19-like symptoms before wishing them a good day and offering directions.
Charm is one of many screeners who were introduced early on in the pandemic and continue to play a critical role in everyday life across Vancouver Coastal Health sites.
“Safety has been our number one priority throughout the global pandemic and our screeners have played an essential role in this," says Aviva Kennedy, Manager of Clinical Staffing at VGH. “Their job is critical to ensuring that patients, visitors and staff alike feel safe when they come to the hospital because they can see first-hand how we're following our safety protocols. The screeners have been integral in providing a sense of welcome as people come through the doors. They recognize how challenging these times are. Being welcomed with a smile can make a difference in their day."
Before coming to Canada, Charm worked as a nurse in the Philippines, and for the last nine years, she worked in a hotel but was laid off in March due to COVID-19. She decided this was a good opportunity to get back to her roots and seek out a hospital job. Charm describes herself as a people person and enjoys the social interaction the screener position provides. Her positive experience working at VGH over the last nine months has encouraged her to consider going back to school to take the courses she needs to practice nursing here in Canada.
Jamie Yu was working as a casual nurse at Richmond Hospital when the pandemic struck. With some time on her hands, Jamie decided to take on screening shifts when they came up. She says the position can be intense — you're interacting with many people and it requires a deeper understanding of the hospital, such as how many visitors are allowed on each floor.
“This position has been a good opportunity to try something new," says Jamie. “I've been able to build relationships both with visitors and families who I screen frequently as well as other health care professionals," she says, adding that it's also been a unique challenge getting to interact with the public in a different way. “I like how every shift is different."
At the Richmond Hospital Cast Clinic, Cora Tan has been working in a new role as a rehab assistant, directing people safely from screening at the main entrance to admitting, and then to the waiting area. It's also her job to remind people to sanitize and show them how to properly wear their masks.
“I really enjoy working with staff and patients as well," says Cora. “Sometimes people are very patient and other times they aren't, but I'm able to help by making people smile and laugh."
“It's crazy to think that a year ago, the role of screeners and greeters at our sites didn't exist — and now, we rely on them so much to ensure that we keep our facilities safe for all our patients, visitors and staff," says Patti Caldwell, a manager at Richmond Hospital. “We can't thank them enough for their dedication, hard work and resilience this past year."
Thank you to all the screeners, greeters and other staff taking on similar roles at sites across VCH, for your dedication to keeping our sites, patients, clients, residents and our staff, safe.