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Edmonton health-care worker details what it’s like to be redeployed during COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Edmonton psychologist on being redeployed to the front line of the health-care system during COVID-19' Edmonton psychologist on being redeployed to the front line of the health-care system during COVID-19
When trouble hit Edmonton hospitals, staff members of all occupations stepped into action – some with completely new roles. Morgan Black introduces us to our latest health-care hero: Misericordia Community Hospital registered psychologist Dr. Erik Wikman – Mar 12, 2021

Health-care workers across Edmonton stepped up to the challenge of redeployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Erik Wikman is a registered psychologist, who typically works with kids and teens at the Misericordia Community Hospital, where a COVID-19 outbreak prompted reassignment of some staff members.

Read more: Calgary doctor calls for urgency in hospital COVID-19 outbreak reports to prevent future situations

Dr. Erik Wikman in an undated photo. Courtesy: Covenant Health

Wikman went from running face-to-face sessions with kids and teens to pre-triage screening of patients and staff entering the hospital.

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“It was a very different process, working on the front line,” Wikman said.

“Literally the first contact at the hospital and screening them for COVID symptoms and helping them get to the right place.”

He is currently working on the COVID-19 unit to assist staff as a “dofficer” — a role that supports workers when they are entering and leaving the COVID-19 unit and patient rooms, by helping them safely put on and take off their personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We always talk about this in psychology. Change is constant,” Wikman said. “Developing some kind of routine in a time of inconsistency can be really helpful.”

Read more: Alberta doctor shares experience designing COVID-19 wards at Edmonton hospital

His role was different, yet his specialized skills still came in handy. Wikman said he used his psychology training to help staff members who felt overwhelmed.

“Some people would be very cautious and worried,” he said. “My own family was a little bit worried about me being in the emergency department and the COVID unit.”

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Wikman found it helpful to connect with staff members and talk through the challenges they faced.

“It’s been just incredible to be there and support one another. Everybody has had their challenges… but your training and your [medical] background kicks in,” he said.

“A lot of people would love to get back to their regular role and we are hoping with vaccine rollout can do that.”

Courtesy: Covenant Health

Dr. Erik Wikman and a fellow team memberThe psychologist said moderate amounts of stress can lead to increased performance.

“It’s the idea of professional rising to the occasion,” he said. “If we can show gratitude and express teamwork and work together to manage things during the pandemic, that will really help us with our connections and overall build resilience with everyone working.”

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When the gowns and the N-95 masks come off, Wikman said he takes a moment to remember exactly why he got into the business of helping others.

“It’s been pretty amazing to recognize the little things you didn’t appreciate before.”

Global Edmonton’s “Health-Care Heroes” series highlights people in Edmonton doing amazing things during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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