Call of Duty: Headwaters Health Care Centre

Manager Lena Bruce, physician Charlie Joyce and nurse Darlene Fitzpatrick kept Headwaters Health Care Centre’s Covid-19 assessment centre going during the pandemic.

November 24, 2020 | | Local Heroes

By early November, the Covid-19 assessment centre in Orangeville had recorded more than 35,000 visits and conducted nearly 33,000 tests. In that time, 810 Covid cases were confirmed in Dufferin and Caledon, including 29 hospital staff members and physicians.

At the start of 2020, none of this was on the agenda for the staff at Headwaters Health Care Centre. But people like Lena Bruce and Darlene Fitzpatrick are old hands at dealing with a crisis. In normal times, both work at the hospital – Lena as manager of the emergency department and Darlene as an emergency room charge nurse.

Lena Bruce (left), Dr Charlie Joyce and Darlene Fitzpatrick in front of the Headwaters Health Care Centre Covid-19 assessment centre. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Lena Bruce (left), Dr Charlie Joyce and Darlene Fitzpatrick in front of the Headwaters Health Care Centre Covid-19 assessment centre. Photo by Pete Paterson.

In addition to her original assignment, Lena now also serves as manager of the assessment centre, while Darlene transferred there as charge nurse. Staffed by about a dozen people, the centre was first located in a tent near the hospital and processed up to 500 people a day. Compared with the emergency room, says Darlene, “It’s not nearly as stressful, but it sure is busy.” As winter approached in early November, the centre moved to a separated area inside the hospital.

Both Lena and Darlene also volunteered to be part of a team that went to work during an outbreak last spring at Shelburne Residence, the long-term care home where 21 residents have died. While there, Darlene also contracted the illness, and despite taking all the precautions, one of her daughters did too. “It was a rough couple of weeks,” says Darlene, and though she has long since recovered, she still experiences some breathing issues.

Despite the risk, Lena says, “My whole career has been in emergency. I’ve never even done in-patient work at the hospital. So the Shelburne Residence experience was quite rewarding.”

Charlie Joyce is the physician lead for the assessment centre. In the early days he attended a planning meeting with representatives of eight different community agencies. “There was a spirit of ‘how can we all come together?’” he says. “That really carried us through the early stages.” There was also a lot of fear, he adds, and a lot of questions: “How bad is it going to get? Will we have to do things we don’t normally do? Will the hospital be overwhelmed? Are we going to get sick? Is there some part of my house where I can sleep to protect my family?”

Darlene says one frustrating aspect of working in the assessment centre is people who don’t follow the rules. “It can be disheartening,” she says. “We’re making sacrifices, even risking bringing it into our homes doing this work, and then we get people demanding a test because they felt attending some big party was more important than the welfare of everyone around them.”

All three agree the biggest challenge has been the ever-evolving guidelines about who gets a test. Initially the number of people who qualified was limited. Then the rules changed and nearly everyone could get one. But in October new changes limited qualified individuals once again. Says Lena, “Keeping up with all that and communicating it to the public can be crazy. We’ve had some unhappy patients.”

Still, she adds, “I’ve been amazed by the staff. It’s been wonderful to be part of it.”

Headwaters Health Care Centre: One of our 2020 Local Heroes

About the Author More by Jeff Rollings

Jeff Rollings is a freelance writer living in Caledon.

Related Stories

Local Heroes 2020

Nov 24, 2020 | Tralee Pearce | Local Heroes

A focus on essentials: Profiles of the folks who kept us all going in 2020.

Hailey McLarty and Shyanne Wharton-Haines Ricci (left) organized the June 14 Shelburne Black Lives Matter march. Sisters Seanna (left) and Makenna Thomas (right), were behind the Orangeville march the same day and walked with little sister Emma. Photo by Pete Paterson.

The New Hope: Local Black Lives Matter Organizers

Nov 24, 2020 | Janice Quirt | Local Heroes

These four young women (plus one younger sister) were the moving force behind two crucial local social justice marches – one in Orangeville and one in Shelburne.

Some of the Orangeville Food Bank staff and volunteers, from left to right : Pam Vender, Laura Jotham, Claudette Riechart, Andrea Thomas, Heather Hayes, Jennifer Sinclair-Webb, Diana Engel, Gary Malone, Trevor Lewis, Vickie Lewis, Deanne Mount, Cathy Wilson and Steve White. Photo by Pete Paterson.

A Community Steps Up: Orangeville Food Bank

Nov 24, 2020 | Tony Reynolds | Local Heroes

When the pandemic caused a spike in need, executive director Heather Hayes and a small army of staff and volunteers worked overtime.

Belfountain Public School teacher Wendy Brooker is one of many educators and school staff who worked tirelessly to ensure students could return to school as safely as possible this September. Photo by Karen Dhaliwal.

Class Acts: Our Educators

Nov 24, 2020 | Tralee Pearce | Local Heroes

“At Belfountain Public School and beyond, teachers, principals, custodians and support staff got our kids learning again in classrooms and online.”

Staff and volunteers at Family Transition Place last year, from left to right, back row: Sara Smith, Janice Snow, Janet Taylor, Lynette Pole-Langdon; third row: Travis Greenley, Ashlynne Cameron, Kendra Wassink, Joanne Jordan, Samantha McCabe, Sara Flache, Debbie Cribbis, Diane Vandenberg, Trish Grabb; second row: Femi Oke (on arm of chair), Lyn Allen, Kristy Fearon, Lisa Goodison, Norah Kennedy, Janice Glassford, Andrea Chantree, Laura Moscatiello, Debbie Lahey, Bonnie Waterfield, Donna Buchan, Stephanie Figliomeni; front row: Christina Gonzalez (seated), Kelly Bohonos, Julie Newton, Tiffany McMillan, Courtney Halkett, Cheryl Martin-Goncalves and Keely Horan. Photo by Kelly Lee.

The Need Doesn’t Stop: Family Transition Place

Nov 24, 2020 | Jeff Rollings | Local Heroes

With everyone stuck together at home during the pandemic, conflicts escalated and this team went into high gear to help new clients.

Foreground: Kurt and Donni Geiser with son and store manager Matthew. Background, from left: Massimo Policciardi, Morgan Innis, Renata Kolaric-Blas, Brenda Brook, Ron Persaud, Cassidy Sandru, Mitchell Greenham, Josh Inglis, Brenda Cordon, Linda Widdes, Cecilia Navarro, Kait Laurenza, Julie James, Maddie Belfry and Erik Rasmussen. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Keeping Food on our Tables: Grocery Workers

Nov 24, 2020 | Tony Reynolds | Local Heroes

We salute the newly minted essential workers at Foodland in Caledon East and across our region for working overtime in the aisles for us.

Pandemic Journals

Pandemic Journals

Jun 25, 2020 | Tralee Pearce | Pandemic Journals

We thank everyone who shared a glimpse of their lives with us.

Headwaters Health Care Centre CEO Stacey Daub has been working on patient service transitions for a decade: “Imagine if you could eliminate those transitions, if it truly was all within one system.” Photo by Pete Paterson.

Headwaters Health Care Centre Faces the Future

Jun 20, 2019 | Elaine Anselmi | Community

In the face of the province’s restructuring of health care, our Headwaters hospital is poised to emerge as the kind of community hub Ontario needs.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.