Ottawa— Douglas native Miranda Crogie, who left the family farm two years ago to become part of a seven-person radiology team on the front lines during a global pandemic, is now one of one of the first health care workers to receive the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine developed to provide her immunity to the COVID-19 virus.
When she rolled up her sleeve Sunday morning, her smile could not hide her excitement and joy.
“It was a super smooth process and I'll be out of here by 1 p.m.,” she said. “It was just like a flu shot and I'm extremely thankful to have been given this opportunity. I can’t wait until I get the second vaccination.”
She received a phone call last Friday evening informing her that Bruyere staff were eligible for the vaccination and asking if she want to be placed on the list.
“I said yes right away and I was so excited to be one of the first in my hospital to be given the shot,” she said.
Her enthusiasm for the chance to be one of the first staff members at Bruyere Continuing Care to be chosen for the vaccine is a far cry from how she felt just a few short months ago. Although she loves her job as a Medical Radiation Technologist (MRT) at Bruyere, a non-profit medical complex in Ottawa, she admits morale had been sinking throughout the health complex as more and more patients and staff were becoming infected with the virus.
It is a virus that has claimed the lives of almost 16,000 Canadians in less than 10 months, and she has seen firsthand the devastating effects the disease can have on otherwise reasonably healthy people. She said her X-Ray Unit processes about 30 patients a week and most of those are highly complex cases, often including individuals with several underlying conditions that are most susceptible to the virus.
“I have had patients brought into our X-Ray Unit on ventilators or with tubes inserted into their throats and sometimes we only find out after the fact they were diagnosed with COVID-19,” she said. “We have had outbreaks at our hospital and part of my daily routine involved putting on the specialized uniforms and masks and quite often I performed mobile x-rays. That sometimes presented a greater risk. That meant going directly into the patient’s room and that meant walking into a room knowing the COVID virus may be in there.”
Ms. Crogie said at one time there were more than 50 confirmed cases of COVID within the facility, which is located in the section of Ottawa known as Lowertown. More than half of those diagnosed were staff members. The majority of patients who arrived at the hospital contracted the disease through community transmission.
That led to strict protocols including allowing only a few staff members to eat their lunch in a very large room, and each one was assigned a corner of the room. She said it was hard to carry on any type of conversation.
When the original outbreak began, staff were rarely notified if a patient had COVID and she said it was almost like high school when rumours circulated about who might have been infected due to the mass confusion of what exactly they were dealing. That was one of the reasons staff morale was low and she and others anxiously awaited any news on a possible vaccine.
“We are all just really tired and we are doing our best to stay positive, but honestly, there are some days we are all just tired of everything,” she said. “But we go on and keep going on because if we don’t, who is going to do it.”
She gets frustrated when she reads online conspiracy theories and can only shake her head when people refuse to accept the simple fact there is a worldwide pandemic and the best way to reduce its deadly impact is for each individual do their part to help reduce the spread of the disease.
“Now we finally have a vaccine for it and for myself and other health care workers, that vaccine can’t come soon enough,” she said. “I am just thankful I have had my first dose with absolutely no reaction and the second one is only days away. I can’t wait until the day comes when everyone is vaccinated and we can try and return to some kind of normal life again.”
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader