Nova Scotia Health Northern Zone’s Palliative Care manager, Kathryn Purdy, does not hold back in her expression of appreciation for the nearly 30 palliative and seniors care professionals whose work she oversees. “The teams are awesome," she says. “I’ve been a manager for quite a few years, and I’ve never managed a better group of people. They’re dedicated, professional and caring. If you ever wanted anybody to care for you, it would be them, all of them.”
When her current position came up, Purdy did not hesitate to apply. “I’ve always had a passion for palliative care. While at university I worked for three or four months at the QE II Victoria General Palliative Care Unit and with my clinical major’s background in oncology, it just seemed to fit.” Formerly a regional manager of long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia, Purdy knew she would enjoy traveling throughout the Northern zone, getting to connect on site with the various programs’ professionals, volunteers and even, on occasion, being invited to join in on meetings with patients and family members.
It’s the end of another full day for Graham Pegg. He’s just finished the first of three 12-hour shifts on the medical surgical unit at Yarmouth Regional Hospital. He’s working as an Undergraduate Student Nurse (USN) while studying full time in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the Yarmouth Campus of Dalhousie University.
“It’s hard to wrap your mind around certain things we learn in nursing, but if we get to see it, it makes everything click a lot better,” said Pegg.
Monday, May 8 marks the first day of National Hospice Palliative Care Week, featuring 2023’s theme “Palliative Care Everywhere.” It is also Nurses’ Week so there’s no better person to profile among our Palliative Care team members than Yarmouth-trained, veteran critical care registered nurse Shannon Purcell. Shannon has been a valued member of Central Zone’s palliative care services teams for the past 11 years.
American-born Robin Williams, 61, moved from Alberta to Nova Scotia in December 2020.
Williams decided to settle in Nova Scotia with her partner after previously retiring from provincial health care work in Alberta. At the time Williams moved to Nova Scotia, COVID-19 was in full swing and Williams recalled the struggles she faced accessing services she needed. “We almost heard the locks on the gate clanging behind us as we got into Nova Scotia. It was hard to access services at that time. It still is I believe,” recalled Williams.
“It’s really just being a good neighbour and helping in the way that a good neighbour does.”
That’s how Lisa McNeil-Campbell, palliative care volunteer program lead with Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone, describes the Helping Hands Brigade - the new community-based volunteer program that she is developing for the palliative care service in Cape Breton County.
Nova Scotia Health is striving to improve the experience of patients, staff and visitors at the QEII Victoria General campus (VG), which receives more than 500,000 patient visits annually. The VG Art Project is one such effort to create a positive and engaging experience for those who are cared for and work at the hospital.
Karen Strickland has been a nurse with Nova Scotia Health since 2003. Most of her career has been spent in perioperative services where she has held various roles. Strickland is currently a health services manager at Dartmouth General Hospital.
“I am an operating room (OR) nurse by background and have recently moved into a management position,” said Karen Strickland. “I'm currently at the Dartmouth General Hospital. I just started in January and I love it here.”
Collaboration and the teamwork are things Strickland loves about her role within operating room (OR) nursing. Strickland said she enjoys the camaraderie and sense of familiarity that is fostered from working together in small groups.