Catherine Olsen, Registered Practical Nurse, North York General

Meet Catherine Olesen

Catherine Olesen is a Registered Practical Nurse at North York General Hospital (NYGH) and the latest winner of the hospital’s staff lottery. Our dedicated staff participate in the lottery as a fun way to give back to the hospital’s greatest needs such as equipment updates, technology advancements and expanded areas. We wanted to learn about these winners and profile how they deliver exceptional care to patients every day. Learn more about Catherine below.

How long have you been working at NYGH?

Five years.

Where do you work in the hospital?

At the Seniors’ Health Centre (SHC), which is a long-term care home.

Can you briefly describe your role?

I work the evening shift at the SHC, and I help residents who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. I’m often dealing with something called “sundowning” which means that in the evening these residents tend to be more confused or aggressive or think they want to go home. I spend time comforting the residents and assuring them that they are safe. If I can hold someone’s hand and make that person smile, it means a lot.

Why did you decide to work at NYGH?

When I applied for different positions as an RPN, I was hired at NYGH. I’m happy to be able to work at SHC because you can build an amazing connection with residents, and I know the staff is making a difference in their lives. The residents appreciate even small gestures. For example, even though we wear masks, I can smile with my eyes and the residents enjoy that.

What has been your most memorable moment at NYGH?

I had a very moving experience during COVID. Last year, families were not allowed to visit because we were in lockdown. I remember that one of the elderly residents was close to passing away. I used my mobile phone to call the family so they could say their good-byes and pray for their mother. It was a very touching experience, and I was grateful that I could help during such a sensitive moment.

What do you like about working at NYGH?

I love the intuitive and amazing team that I work with at SHC. We listen to each other and are receptive to new ideas or suggestions to make the residents’ experience at SHC the best it can be. We always remember that SHC is home for the residents.

Do you have a hobby that you like to do outside of work?

I love to paint. It’s my escape. Most of the time I use animals, flowers or landscapes as my subject matter. Right now, I’m in the middle of painting a panther. I pick up a brush whenever the mood moves me. But I have a big box of “to be finished” projects because sometimes the inspiration leaves me and then I need to wait until I feel it again.

Why did you decide to join the staff lottery, besides the chance of winning?

The lottery supports a great cause. I’m happy for the winner and that the rest of the funds assist with hospital needs so we can continue to provide an excellent standard of care to our patients.

What do you plan to do with your winnings?

I haven’t decided yet. My brother, who lives in the United States, just had a baby and when COVID is over, I’d like to visit him. My daughter would like us to visit St. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, Ontario.