Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.

Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.

Pandemic the most challenging of Abbotsford nurse’s 16-year career

Corina Rochon works front lines at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

In recognition of National Nursing Week (May 10 to 16), The Abbotsford News published a special tribute in its Thursday, May 6 edition. This is one of the featured stories.

Corina Rochon thought she had seen it all in her 16 years of nursing, but then COVID-19 hit.

She recalls just over a year ago when she was working in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) and the first COVID patient was admitted.

“I knew this was it. The virus was here in our community, in our hospital. Sadly, that day was joined by many others like it. COVID patients started arriving daily, often multiple a day,” Rochon said.

She said the last year has by far been the most challenging of her career, with record numbers of patients in critical care, particularly now during the third wave of the virus in B.C. ICU rooms that normally hold one person now regularly hold two, and they’re always full.

Rochon said this puts an emotional and physical strain on health-care workers, who are often the only ones at the bedside of dying patients.

“Watching families say goodbye to a loved one over Zoom is absolutely devastating … I have cried with families. I have cried with patients.”

RELATED: Celebrating Our Nurses special section

Their burden is compounded by a segment of the population who is defiant about public health restrictions designed to limit the spread of the virus and who spread misinformation and conspiracy theories.

“Each misconception is defeating and taking away from the sacrifices we are making. Nurses are tired. We are giving what we have left to make it through this third wave and are out of energy trying to correct the constant supply of assumptions and misinformation,” she said.

Rochon said another challenge is staffing shortages that were already in place before COVID-19. But now, with the stresses from the pandemic, more health-care workers are facing burnout or are leaving the field entirely.

She said this will have long-term impacts for the profession, as more nurses decide not to return to the field and many will suffer from physical and mental-health deterioration.

But Rochon said there’s no other career she can imagine doing because, despite the extreme challenges, there are so many rewards.

She has been in the field since obtaining her bachelor of science in nursing through University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in 2005. She spent two years as a surgical nurse before completing her critical care nursing speciality through BCIT in 2007.

She then worked in the old MSA Hospital’s ICU before transitioning to ARH when it opened in 2008.

Rochon accepted a faculty position at UFV in 2016 and completed her master of nursing at Athabasca University in 2018.

She spent about six months away from bedside nursing in ICU because she needed to take a break from the emotional difficulty of critical care. When she returned on a casual basis, she said her passion for the job returned and she never stopped going back.

Rochon has balanced her nursing around her teaching work, but felt morally obligated to pick up extra hospital shifts during the pandemic.

“We need to be there and step up and do what we were trained to do – and what we want to do. I’ve never thought of it anything else than this is my job. This is what’s expected of me,” she said.

Rochon urges people to follow public-health guidelines and get vaccinated if they are able so that everyone can get back to “normal.” She said it is up to each person to make the change for the greater good, and respect the health-care workers who are facing the pandemic head on.

“I am proud to be a nurse. Nurses have demonstrated patience, courage and commitment throughout this pandemic but are tired. Once hailed as superheroes, we certainly are not; we do not have super powers to keep us going. We are frustrated and exhausted,” she said.

“People are sheltered from our reality, but our stories are real. Our own experiences have long-lasting effects. We are humans too.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusFraser Healthnurse

Just Posted

RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Most Read