Kathleen Sagum, Respiratory Therapist
Today we are pleased to shine a light on Kathleen Sagum, a respiratory therapist (RT) who recently relocated from Qatar to join the team at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
Decision to relocate
Kathleen has lived Qatar for 18 years and studied respiratory therapy at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA), a branch school of CNA in Newfoundland. “I had been working as an RT for six years at Hamad General Hospital, the main and biggest hospital in Qatar,” she says.
Working nonstop during the pandemic has exhausted health care professionals across the sector and the world, not only physically but also mentally.
“I was not emotionally prepared to face the reality of being on the frontline,” says Kathleen. “I lost the drive to do my job because of all the losses witnessed every day. That’s when I decided that I needed to find a way to keep the fire burning and look for a new environment.”
Kathleen did her research and among all of the hospitals she came across, it was Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) that caught her interest. “From the wide range of the patient population of acute and complex cases and knowing that VGH is the biggest Trauma & Spine Center across B.C. with an extensive scope of practice, I knew that moving to Canada and working at VGH would give me the opportunity for the career growth and new experiences that I’m longed for.”
Given that her educational and registry credentials are Canadian based, it made the decision a little bit easier. “[Plus], knowing the benefits of being a permanent resident will provide me with a solid future and retirement stability,” she says.
A new team and family at Vancouver General Hospital
But moving across the world from the Middle East to North America undoubtedly comes with challenges. “One of the struggles I faced relocating here was processing my immigration status but VCH helped me immensely,” she says. “The organization provided me with very thorough guidelines of what to do step by step from obtaining my work permit to applying for my permanent residency. VCH also offered me financial relocation assistance package which helped me a lot in starting a new life here in Canada.”
Arriving in a new country without friends and family was another challenge Kathleen faced. “I [moved] here with no friends or relatives,” she says. “At VGH, I found not only new colleagues but a new family here. Everyone is so supportive, helpful, and approachable. Not once did I ever feel out of place or alone.”
She tells us that she was guided every step of the way from day one of her orientation to buddy shifts until she handled patients on her own. “I am honored and grateful to be part of the RT family here at VGH.”
A rewarding career
Kathleen enjoys working with a multidisciplinary team that offers different expertise. “We get to handle patients not only in critical care but in ambulatory and long-term care as well,” she says. “I enjoy working hand-in-hand with various professionals, exchanging thoughts and ideas for the betterment of our patients. I also love and enjoy hearing patients’ testimony about their journey to recovery knowing that we’re part of it.”
Being able to witness her patients’ journey to recovery is what keeps Kathleen inspired. “Seeing our patients in the lowest point of their health care journey inside the ICU with multiple procedures, tests, and scans to slow, positive progression of their condition into finally being weaned off support keeps me motivated,” she says. “I get to witness our long-term ventilated patients progress in rehab, from being weak and vulnerable to seeing them being able to walk and talk again after months of hospitalization, and seeing them smile and re-unite with their families is what makes every busy, long shifts worth it.”
To provide the best quality patient care, Kathleen pushes herself to never stop learning especially with new technology being introduced and extensive resources for research and studies, “It’s good to develop new techniques and ways of providing care and treatments for patients.”