artsUNITE Essential worker of the Month is a monthly feature that recognizes Essential Frontline Workers who keep our communities safe. Essential workers are behind the scenes navigating the changing needs of our community, all while sacrificing their safety and balancing their personal life. This month we sat down with Wil Manalili, Critical Care Registered Nurse in Thoracic Surgery/Head and Neck Surgery/Surgical Stepdown at St. Joseph’s Charlton Campus, Creative and Podcaster.
What do you like most about your role as a Nurse?
I like how transformative being a Nurse is. Yes: the hours are long, and the stress level is high – but seeing that I’ve made an impact on my individual patients’ lives is what matters most to me. And it involves being a liaison for patients with doctors, allied health, family, etc. It requires mutual respect and an intimate form of trust. Connecting, collaborating, communicating. These are easier said than done. But, I’ve learned so much about myself from being there for others. So not only is my practice helpful in my patient’s recovery – it has influenced who I am today and my perspective in this world.
What is it like being a Nurse during this time?
Different, to be quite honest. Since the beginning of the year, when jobs were closing/changing because of the pandemic and people were taking refuge at home, the hospital was in dire need of Nurses. So instead, for me, I found myself busier. I wouldn’t say “more at risk”, but rather, I was in the heat of it all. Being at work was eerie because the uncertainty was affecting everyone (patients, staff, etc). It has been stressful because of all the continual changes, adjustments, and updates. And it has been harder for me to “stay tuned” to the news at home because I’ve been surrounded by it at work this whole time. At the end of the day, you pick and choose what you want to surround yourself with. For nurses, we work and put our lives on the line for others every day. So to some, their schedules may not have changed at all. I am a very social person naturally, so my role as a nurse has become my source of socializing and connecting with others. New challenges are arising every single day, so I take each challenge one day at a time.
What should patients do to help keep you safe?
The time for being mindful of yourself and your surroundings is now. I would say that to keep ME safe, communication is key. There may be barriers, but letting me know how you are feeling and what is going on is ultimately going to help you recover in the long run. Secondly, practice patience. It is already hard enough to wait, but if you are worried and unsure of what is going on, imagine how your nurse is feeling trying to figure that out for you. Being sensitive to my side of the spectrum would be all the more helpful in getting you the best care.
Are there any special protocols we may not know of that are in place to keep Nurses, Patients and the Community healthy and safe?
Being in contact with your loved ones has been a positive determinant to a patient’s recovery and wellbeing, especially in the hospital. Where I work at St. Joseph’s, we allow a maximum of two visitors interchangeably to see patients during their hospital stay. And for those that are unable to come in person, my ward provides patients with a tablet to book 30-minute calls via Zoom! Things are definitely not the same as they were before, but I believe these opportunities are steps in the right direction. Masks continue to be worn inside the hospital by staff and patients (we receive them after our staff screening entry). And once patients are in their room, they are allowed to have their mask off. Hospitals are continually being notified of regional changes and daily updates of numbers/percentages per city as well as per hospital. This keeps staff informed from an internal level, not just from hearing changes on the news. Individual wards have reallocation/contingency plans set in place in the event that numbers increase. Have trust that there is something being done under the radar, but that being said, this relies on everyone’s part in staying safe and following infection prevention/social distancing guidelines.
When you are not caring for patients at St. Joe’s, what do you like to do in your personal time that helps you get through these uncertain times? Any creative hobbies or interests etc.
Normally when I am not working, my time is usually spent with my loved ones. But since the pandemic, I have had more time to focus on my own personal hobbies! I love to paint, draw, sing, and sew. I have created a new Instagram named @wilfredmade but I am still in the process of producing shareable content. Recently, I have been learning more about embroidery art, as well I have been making illustrations for loved ones on my iPad on Procreate. My partner Ron and I have even started our very own personal podcast, called “smalltalkin“, where we dabble into random topics and just laugh about anything and everything. What I love about all these hobbies is that there is no stressful deadline. It is completely informal, and it has been helping me so much in getting my mind off of work. It may take some time finishing pieces, but all of these mediums get me into something productive, creative, and at the end of the day, sane!
What advice would you give to other essential workers during these uncertain times?
Remember yourself, and be mindful of your own limits. There are screening tools for a reason. Do not be afraid to speak up on things that you see and hear around you which warrant clarification. Stand up for yourself when you feel undervalued. Save room for yourself if you are working too hard. Do not forget to keep in contact with your loved ones, who may not exactly know all of the things that you do on a daily basis. Not everyone prays or is religious, but grasping a sense of faithfulness or hopefulness is so important during these times for us all. No man is an island, and we need to work together in order to get through this.
Thank you for all that you do on a daily basis to keep our communities and loved ones healthy. Be sure to follow @wilfredmade and listen to the “smalltalkin” podcast!