Frontline healthcare workers are overwhelmed and exhausted. Long hours, limited resources and the constant fear created by COVID-19 have left Ontario medical and support staff in desperate need of a break. When the one-year anniversary of the pandemic approached, staff at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre near Guelph, Ontario began to wonder what they could do to help. Kristine O’Brien, the Executive Director, came up with the idea of a retreat giveaway. “Our mission is to provide opportunities for rest and renewal, and who deserves that more than those who have been working so hard and making such huge personal sacrifices?” she explains.
The Frontline Heath Care Worker Giveaway was created to provide an all-expenses paid weekend away in a private cottage with gourmet meals. Through social media, they asked the community to nominate their friends, family members or co-workers on the frontlines who deserve a break. The stories were submitted privately but O’Brien says they were poignant: “I was very moved by the number of people who were offering extraordinary service while juggling the needs of their own children and elderly parents. Some were even volunteering in their community during their off-hours.” Nominations closed on March 31st.
At first, Crieff Hills planned to give away just one retreat. But when the centre promised to match every $250 donation to give away another weekend, the response was swift and there have now been so many donors that they have given away 13 retreats. One recipient, Hannah Currie, is a Registered Nurse in the NICU in a London, Ontario hospital. She says it has been “a challenging year for my coworkers and I, as we navigated the rapidly changing guidelines, PPE shortages, and overtime shifts. This is such a kind gift and I’m excited to enjoy some restful time at such a beautiful location.”
Crieff Hills continues to match donations and hopes to offer weekends away to every one of the nominations they received. For more information and how to donate, please visit www.crieffhills.com or call 519-824-7898.
I’m an RN working in the NICU at London Health Sciences Centre. Covid has been especially difficult for our patients and their families, who are already going through an incredibly stressful time. Many of our babies are in the hospital for months and are critically ill. Some are born to COVID positive or suspected mothers and need to be in isolation.
It has also made for a challenging year for my coworkers and I, as we navigated the rapidly changing guidelines, PPE shortages, and overtime shifts.
While we are not out of this pandemic yet, I can see hope with the vaccine roll out. In January, I decided to join the vaccine team with the Middlesex London Health Unit. Over the past few months, we have been able to vaccinate the nursing home and retirement home residents in the area along with many health care workers and older adults in the community. Changing protocols and vaccine shortages have made this difficult at times but I remain hopeful for an end to this pandemic.
I want to say a huge thank you to Crieff Hills and the generous donors for providing the opportunity for a weekend away. This is such a kind gift and I’m excited to enjoy some restful time at such a beautiful location. Thank you again, and I pray that this pandemic will soon be a part of history.