I am a full-time physiotherapist working in an Ontario hospital ICU and, although this COVID-19 pandemic was anxiety provoking in the early phases - any new illness can be difficult to care for due to limited data, it has really been the spark that has reinvigorated my passion for helping Canadians through critical illness.
I am fortunate to work with an amazing team; we’ve taken this pandemic head-on and it really has taken multi-disciplinary collaboration to get these patients through all phases of their illness. It required patience to learn about the role of PT in this specific patient population, but I am proud to say that we have helped liberate several patients from a ventilator and a large percentage have successfully transitioned out of the ICU!
I have found myself helping with proning, leading the team re: early mobilization, completing chest PT, or diaphragmatic re-training, and helping patients relearn how to stand, walk, and wean off O2 support.
Seeing the change between someone who was in severe ARDS - on max ventilator settings, heavily sedated, and dependent on a paralytic to ensure the team could ventilate them effectively - to seeing them several weeks later, alert, conversing, off oxygen, and making steady gains towards returning to independent mobility is incredibly gratifying.
Stress may come and go, but these are the moments that keep us showing up for our patients every day.
Jenna Howie, MSc PT