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Nova Scotia COVID-19 unit workers prepare for life with eased restrictions

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia health-care workers respond to eased restrictions' Nova Scotia health-care workers respond to eased restrictions
Frontline health-care workers in Nova Scotia say they’re feeling nervous, but cautiously optimistic heading into next week’s lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Graeme Benjamin has more. – Mar 16, 2022

Bev Dixon says if another wave of COVID-19 hits Nova Scotia, Halifax’s inpatient unit will be ready.

“It’s a little scary,” said Dixon, who works as the health service manager in the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre COVID-19 unit. “But I think that we’re also prepared.”

Dixon has been working in the COVID-19 unit ever since the first patient with the virus came into the hospital. Having now been through four waves of COVID, she says it’s important to never let your guard down.

“Every day things would change,” she said. “We’d learn one thing and the next day it would change, and then the next day it would change again.

“These things changed every day and people were really resilient.”

Read more: A rare look inside Halifax’s COVID-19 inpatient unit, and the lessons they’ve learned

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Nova Scotia is set to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, including masking and social distancing mandates. Premier Tim Houston has said the province is ready to “make gradual changes” with “confidence.”

During the announcement on Feb. 23, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said more people are being discharged from hospital than those being admitted, and outbreaks in vulnerable settings have decreased.

Click to play video: 'A look inside Halifax’s COVID-19 inpatient unit' A look inside Halifax’s COVID-19 inpatient unit
A look inside Halifax’s COVID-19 inpatient unit – Mar 15, 2022

Despite the incoming changes, many of the restrictions at the QEII Health Sciences Centre are expected to remain the same. Some front-line workers in the COVID-19 inpatient unit say they’re nervous about the potential uptick in admissions, but they’re approaching next week with cautious optimism.

“As we see vaccination rates increasing, and certainly we’ve done quite well with that here in Nova Scotia, it takes that uncertainty piece aside,” said Dr. Christy Bussey, head of Halifax’s COVID-19 Inpatient Unit.

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“Yes we’re feeling exhausted, but we don’t feel the same degree of stress or strain with each wave, because we’ve done it.”

“We have a really good, close-knit team work here, not just specific on the COVID unit but my colleagues as well,” said Maria Collier, a clinical nurse educator within Halifax’s COVID-19 unit.

“It’s been marvelous to see how well the collaboration has been from all health-care professionals.”

Read more: N.S. to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on March 21, proof of vaccination gone Feb. 28

As for Dixon, she says even though restrictions are being lifted, it doesn’t mean the pandemic’s over.

“I think we’re going to live with COVID,” she said. “I think we’re going to see a little bump in numbers because of that.

“I know I’m going to be careful.”

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