Our People in Profile: Michelle Gallant helps employees stay healthy, overcome barriers to work

Michelle Gallant is an occupational health nurse and rehabilitation consultant. She is also a member of the Occupational Health Safety & Wellness team in Central Zone
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One of the reasons Michelle Gallant was drawn to nursing was because of the variety of opportunities within the field. 
 
An employee of NSHA for the past 10 years, Gallant is currently a member of the Occupational Health Safety & Wellness team in Central Zone (Halifax area and West Hants) as an occupational health nurse and rehabilitation consultant.
 
Being bilingual, Gallant is able to serve employees in English and French. 
 
Employee safety and support are the focus of both of her roles. 
 
In her role as an occupational health nurse she provides a variety of tasks, such as:
  • Orienting new employees to important occupational health and safety practices
  • Conducting health assessments with new staff before they start work
  • Connecting with staff who have sustained an exposure to blood or bodily fluids to minimize and monitor their risk of contracting illness
“The role of occupational health nurse is very important in assuring that new staff who come to NSHA have up-to-date immunization to protect themselves and others from both contracting and spreading communicable diseases,” said Gallant.
 
When NSHA employees contract diseases like measles, mumps or meningitis, occupational health nurses also work to track down who has come into contact with these individuals and therefore might be at risk for developing or spreading the disease; this is called contact tracing. 
 
When there is a concern about communicable disease in community, occupational health nurses work with all NSHA team members to ensure they are able to work safely. 
 
This can include reviewing employees’ immunization history, coordinating testing and arranging immunization for those who do not have immunity.  
 
The goal is to contain or limit disease transmission as much as possible. 
 
“This can be challenging, as Central Zone supports more than 12,000 employees,” said Gallant.
 
In her other role as a rehabilitation consultant within the Occupational Health Safety & Wellness team, she supports employees who are on medical leave with conditions that limit their function at work.
 
“Collaboration is key in these cases,” said Gallant. 
 
She works with providers like physiotherapists, psychotherapists, occupational therapists and case management workers to help employees return to work safely and in a timely way. 
 
She also eases the transition for employees coming back to the workplace by coordinating safe and sustainable return-to-work plans.
 
By listening to employees’ concerns and providing education and resources, Gallant is able to help employees overcome barriers that may impact their ability to work on a regular and consistent basis. 
Gallant has found both roles to be rewarding, “It is very rewarding to know that you have the ability to make a difference when someone is experiencing a difficult situation,” she said. 
 
For Gallant, her roles as an occupational health nurse and rehabilitation consultant allow for optimal family-life balance.
 
She considers herself lucky to be part of a fun team of supportive colleagues and to work in a field that makes a positive impact on the team members who strive to provide quality patient care daily.