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‘A big sense of relief’: Vancouver nurse reflects on a year of COVID-19

A nurse for Vancouver Coastal Health has been busy helping her team vaccinate hundreds of people every day
Jane Carson 2
Jane Carson holds the first coronavirus vaccine her health team delivered to a senior living at home.

For the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic instigating the first lockdowns in British Columbia, Vancouver Is Awesome heard from a Vancouver nurse who has been on the front lines since the beginning.

Jane Carson has been a community health nurse for Vancouver Coastal Health for the last four years. Regularly she visits patients’ homes and helps them with anything they might need like palliative care to home support. Now though she and her team have been pulled to help administer COVID-19 vaccines for the health region.

'A strange year'

"It's been a strange year as it has been for everyone,” Carson said. "On a personal level it's tough for me because my family is all in Victoria... in wanting to be extra careful as a nurse and not exposing my family or my patients, not travelling and not seeing them has been challenging."

As the pandemic progressed, Carson saw herself as the broken link in her family’s safety.

"Because everyone else could stay home and healthcare workers didn't and were around sick people, it was kind of like 'oh stay away from the nurses,’” she said.

'Everyone gets to be safe except for me'

Due to the nature of her work, she would visit many homes each day, a very different workplace compared to the sanitized, relatively controlled environment of a hospital. When Carson heard the stay-at-home orders, she knew her work put her more at risk of contracting the virus.

"Everyone gets to be safe except for me," she said. "That was a scary time for sure."

On the upside though, contributing to the growing numbers of vaccinated British Columbians has been a thrilling experience. 

"I was so excited, I was the first person to give a COVID vaccine from my health unit to a senior at home,” she said. “Even just like holding the vaccine, I was like ‘oh my gosh we've been waiting for so long for this it seems so surreal that I'm holding this vaccine and giving it to someone,’ it was really exciting."

'A big sense of relief'

Since then she and her health unit have been giving approximately 100 vaccines every day, which means going to each recipient’s home and administering the shot there. 

"Once we call them everyone has a big sense of relief," Carson said, noting other little golden moments she has seen while vaccinating patients. 

As Carson tells it, since patients have to stay inside all day to wait for the nurses to show up with the vaccine, one family drew a vaccine and a smiley face on a sticky note and put it on their front door to signal they were home.

The vaccinations are almost always accompanied by loved ones taking videos or photos of the vaccine being delivered.

"I think the biggest up has been the vaccine rollout throughout the whole year," Carson said.