Answering a Calling to Help Others

Jordan Bast, NSc'20

When Jordan Bast, NSc’20, heard a Toronto-area group home was dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, she called and asked what she could do to help. In mid-April the home hired her, and she began working directly with residents struggling with the virus.

Although she had a full-time nursing job lined up at SickKids hospital in Toronto in August, she took the short-term contract to put her skills to use in the fight against COVID-19. Ms. Bast says she has always been passionate about helping people.  

“I knew there were places that needed help,” says the new nursing graduate who expects to soon pass her exam to officially become a registered nurse. “I feel very privileged that I have the skills to help others. I’ve found myself less overwhelmed by the pandemic now that I am doing something about it.”

This is not the way Ms. Bast was expecting to finish her degree at Queen’s and to start her career. Classes were cancelled the week she and her classmates were supposed to return to campus from their placements. Then her graduation party and convocation were cancelled so she never got to celebrate the end of university with her friends.

“But the reality sank in pretty quickly that this is a real emergency,” says Ms. Bast. “So now we are feeling driven to get in there and do something.”

Under normal circumstances, Ms. Bast would be working an eight-hour shift, but the pandemic meant staff were often asked to work longer hours. She and many other nurses at the group home were taking extra shifts, working 12 to 16 hours and day, sometimes six days a week.

Unfortunately, practising physical distancing is not always possible for nurses because duties such as putting an oxygen tube in a patient can’t be done from two metres away.

At the home, 95 per cent of the residents and more than 45 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. The good news was Ms. Bast had personal protective equipment (PPE) so she felt the group home administrators were doing their best to make staff feel safe and protected.

Working in a COVID-19 hotspot required Ms. Bast to make sacrifices. Now that she is done working at the home, she has to self quarantine for two weeks. While working, she was living in a hotel near the group home — it was too risky to stay at home with her parents — and remained there when not at work.  

With all the risks and sacrifices, why did she take the job? Her mother was a registered nurse, so she grew up seeing her mom come home every day feeling like she made a difference in people’s lives. That inspired her.

“(Working in the group home) felt like a calling,” says Ms. Bast, who learned how to treat and manage infectious diseases during her time at Queen’s. “I was thinking to myself, ‘If not me, who?’”

Are you or a Queen’s graduate you know making a difference in the fight against COVID-19? Tell us