Marissa Alegria-Padios, Perioperative Nurse, North York General

A new journey of care, growth, and learning

I still consider myself new to North York General Hospital (NYGH). I’ve been here for a year and a half as a perioperative nurse, after having worked for almost two decades in the field. The perioperative period is the time period of a patient’s surgical procedure, which means the time right from admission to recovery. From supporting the surgeon with the surgical tools to ensuring the patient is properly cared for during the surgery, that is what I handle every day.

I may have a short interaction with patients, but it is an interaction during a time when they are very anxious and scared. Being able to work with them through this critical time, and help patients feel calm and cared for, fulfills my day.

I’ve truly felt for patients and their families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While some surgeries were put on hold, others that were still happening often had very vulnerable patients. There were elderly patients, who felt so helpless and lonely without their loved ones nearby due to COVID-19 restrictions at the hospital.

A learning opportunity

For me personally, it has also been a challenging time. I had joined NYGH right at the time the deadly pandemic had begun wreaking havoc on the city. As the case numbers surged, right after my orientation, it was all hands on deck for every health care worker. Having worked for decades in the operating room, I was asked to support the floor, which meant looking after patients by their bedside.

I remember one time when a 90-year-old patient passed away in my care. He had no family or loved ones by his side, so I was glad that I could be there for him. In his final moments, he could have asked for anything, but all he wanted were cookies! When he finally breathed his last breath, it really made me cry.

Working on a usual shift, and not on surgeries alone, was a bit scary for me. It was a good learning experience, almost a refresher of my nursing school days. What was the most rewarding in those tough times was to see the way everyone helped each other out. It was such an atmosphere of understanding and care, for patients and for every member of the team.

Double the celebrations

Seeing all the support around me is part of the reason I want to give back. The 50/50 Staff Lottery is a way to do just that. The jackpot definitely helps if we win, but if we don’t it still contributes to the health and well-being of people who you care for and care about. My lottery win happened on the day of my daughter’s wedding! My phone buzzed with congratulatory notifications on a day when we were already celebrating, so it was double the blessing and joy.

— Marissa Alegria-Padios