Maria Nemer grew up in the desert-like climate of inland Mexico. Preparing Nova Scotia healthcare facilities for emergencies such as hurricanes and flooding wasn’t the career path she expected.
“But I found I have a real passion for emergency preparedness,” she said. “It’s not a case of if we’re going to have a hurricane, if we’re going to have coastal flooding, or if we’re going to have another pandemic. It’s a question of when these things will happen and being prepared for them.”
In March 2022, Hospice Cape Breton began accepting patients. A stand-alone, home-like health care facility, located on land that was donated by Membertou First Nation, Hospice Cape Breton provides care for patients nearing the end of life. The hospice was established through the long-standing partnership of the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County and Nova Scotia Health. To mark a year since the hospice began accepting patients, members of the hospice team and the Hospice Society shared their reflections on the hospice’s impact.
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.