Omellia Dennis

Putting oneself at risk to help others

Entering a COVID-19 isolation room creates some anxiety for the team in North York General Hospital’s emergency department. Everyone has a different threshold. Some won’t even give it a second thought, while others may be re-thinking their career choice. Regardless of where they fall on the spectrum, they always go in. It’s part of what they do; what they need to do.

“I’ve found it so inspiring to see frontline staff from all different departments—clinical and non-clinical — join forces to tackle COVID-19,” said Ann Shook, Clinical Coordinator, Emergency Services Program. “The team at North York General Hospital truly is a family.”

Omellia Dennis, a member of our frontline facilities team, was asked to install additional hand sanitizer dispensers in the emergency department. It’s not really a big deal when it’s just outside the rooms. But one of our negative pressure rooms, where the most concerning COVID-19 patients are placed, needed an urgent replacement.

Omellia was given the option to wait until the patient was discharged and the room was cleaned. But he bravely chose to go in, thinking of the situation and the need rather than himself.

“It’s my job as a facilities staff member,” said Omellia. “I understand what’s going on currently, but I still have to do my job and just make sure to take the necessary precautions so I can get my work done.”

A nurse helped him don the required personal protective equipment (a mask, face shield, gown and gloves) and escorted him into the room. She waited while Omellia installed the dispenser (with the patient present in the room) and assisted him with taking off the PPE once the task was completed.

“Installing the hand sanitizer dispenser in the negative pressure room was no problem for me,” said Omellia. “I was just doing my job.”