3 VCH healthcare workers on the little things that make their jobs special

Healthcare workers have been the celebrated backbone carrying us through the last few years. While the public cheering, works of art, and other ways of showing appreciation have been graciously welcomed, there are so many other aspects of the job that remind staff at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) why their careers rock.

Daily Hive spoke to three staff at VCH’s North Shore Hospice and Palliative Care Unit at Lions Gate Hospital, and the overwhelming message was simple: the people who work at VCH have an enormous pride and passion for their jobs, whether they be medical staff, nurses, technicians, social workers, lab technologists, housekeepers, maintenance staff, or any of the other countless roles that keep the hospital’s heart pumping and its community healthy.

A real team spirit

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Nurse Jennifer Rampre is one of those working at North Shore Hospice and 7W Palliative Care Unit at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, and managed to bring immeasurable joy to both colleagues and patients in an entirely unique, very fluffy way.

Rampre’s dog, Marley, started off as an occasional visitor at the hospice, and soon became an integral member of the team.

“For 10 years Marley came on all of my night shifts. When families came in, she would lay at their feet and give them her belly. People just couldn’t help but feel a moment of joy and relief, even in the saddest times — it’s hard not to scratch a loving labrador’s belly.”

After Marley passed, Rampre’s peers gave her a new ID badge with a photo of the pup attached to it so that her fur baby could continue to come to work with her daily.

In her position for 19 years, Rampre actually came into the job in an extremely interesting and powerful way, deciding to go into nursing (and in palliative care at Lions Gate Hospital in particular) after she herself had a loved one who was admitted to the ward.

Strength in community care

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During Rampre’s first shift on the job after being hired full-time, she assisted a patient who passed away in the same room her loved one had, which was too significant of a coincidence for her to ignore.

“The RN that was supporting the wife of the patient put her arm around me and said ‘you are doing exactly what you should be doing, this is where you should be.’ Meanwhile, she had no idea [of the moment’s significance for me].”

Though the instance seems like a shockingly rare sign, palliative nurse Sarah Schaefer likewise had a family member pass on her own unit — not before she came into the job, but while she was already there.

“When I was going through my own grief and loss and experiencing something that was so heartbreaking and challenging, I was able to see it from the other side… I was able to see how people see us, and I was able to acknowledge that what we do is so meaningful to people,” Schaefer says.

For her, too, the team has made all the difference to her day-to-day, as has working for an organization that supports her.

“Having a great team, which I have on my unit, is so important and I am so grateful for that. VCH has also given me the opportunity for growth and has helped me build more confidence in myself… there are always chances to grow in your profession here.”

The others, too, echo the same sentiments when speaking of their career paths. “I think if you have a team, a work environment and a company that supports you, then you can’t help but do well,” Rampre says.

‘I love the wonderful team here’

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Small acts of kindness and compassion are the highlights of days at VCH, which is what many staff seem to love most about their jobs, whether it’s little things from patients or their families — or, their colleagues.

“I love the wonderful team here, it takes away the stress of the job and creates a lot of reward. It’s like a big family here,” says Clinical Nurse Educator Natasha Lee, adding that when it comes to heart-warming moments, she has experienced them too often to count.

Another little thing that’s really stuck with Lee is the capacity her coworkers have to show their gratitude for one another. Her unit started a trend of crafting appreciation jars, for example.

“We write traits about each team member that makes them unique beyond their role, and then we make word clouds with the notes that they can hang on their wall… that sense of celebrating the individuality of someone goes a long way,” she says.

Vancouver Coastal Health believes these little things make the biggest difference for both patients and each other. Interested in a career with VCH? Check out the variety of positions open at VCH and join the team.


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