Northern Health nurses were celebrated recently during National Nurses Week.
Director of Patient Care Services at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital Sharon Dempsey said the nurses at the hospital are fantastic.
“We have a hard working team of dedicated professionals that never cease to cause me to be admirable for what they are able to achieves in a small, rural area. They deliver amazing patient care,” she said.
The hospital currently has eight LPNs and 54 registered nurses, which Dempsey said is a significant number. This number doesn’t include the staff at the operating room nor the cancer oncology team.
“We did have a shortage but we had a very active recruiting and hiring year,” she said. “Since February we’ve tried 14 nurses, and that is a record year for us. The older demographic of nurses has retired and our cohort is actually really young. Our mean age is probably around 30. That is a young professional team.”
She added this works well because the education that is provided for entry level nurses has been become more sophisticated over the years.
“There are high quality nurses that are being turned out and are ready to work.”
One nurse that has worked at the hospital since 1988 isn’t slowing down and Dempsey said Carla Zilkowsky is now inspiring her co-workers to love their jobs.
“She has been a nurse for 39 years, that is quite remarkable,” she said.
Zilkowsky has recently started to wear her nurse’s cap again, which has become a conversation starter with patients and encouraged other nurses to have pride in their jobs.
The nurse’s cap was a part of the uniform along with white clothes up until the 1980s, depending on the province. It is no longer mandatory and most nurses can just wear scrubs or street clothes now.
Zilkowsky said it was a sense of pride when she graduated from nursing school and got to wear it. She has now dusted it off and puts it on regularly while encouraging other nurses to follow suit.
The death of a former co-worker, who passed away shortly after retiring, inspired her to not put off things she wants to do.
When asked when she plans on retiring, she said she still loves coming to work everyday and doesn’t have any plans to hang up hat right now.