CONNECTING WITH PATIENTS
Ilbiko Safian has worked at Sunnybrook for 40 years. Her first position was as a unit aid before she became a patient services partner (PSP). After retiring, she missed working at Sunnybrook so much that she decided to come back and work on a part-time basis, joining the Environmental Services team.
When in my youth and in my home country of Hungary, I trained as a chemist and worked with a pharmaceutical company.
Life as we knew it was changing and in 1957, I left Budapest and came to Canada with my husband. We had married only the day before. It was a difficult time. I was an only child and was forced to leave my mother and father behind.
Canada has been a wonderful home, and at Sunnybrook I have been surrounded by truly great people. Caring and connecting with patients to ensure that they have the best possible experience while in hospital has been in my heart since I began working here in 1973.
Coming from a war-torn country, I feel as though I understand the old soldiers living in the Veterans Centre. I never thought I could connect with a patient so easily. I can see how emotional they are and I love taking a moment to talk with them. What I see is living history: men and women who have lived their lives to the fullest.
I have worked in so many areas throughout the hospital: cardiology, the dialysis unit, the infectious diseases unit, surgical intensive care (now the critical care unit), the Burn Centre and the Veterans Centre. I feel so very fortunate to work with incredible people and so many high-level, dedicated professionals.
When I think back on my years at
Sunnybrook, the patient involvement is what stands out and defines so many of my memories.
One of my greatest highlights at Sunnybrook was having the pleasure of caring for A.J. Casson. At 90, he still had a great sense of humour and would tell us many interesting stories about his life and the other members of the Group of Seven [painters]. We were fortunate to celebrate his 90th birthday with him.
For me, I am most pleased when I know that I helped make life a bit better at a time when there was little hope. There is nothing more rewarding than when a patient recovers from their illness. To see someone walk again after an illness or traumatic injury cannot be measured. – As told to Sally Fur
A DEFINING MOMENT
Patricia Morin is a registered nurse in the Outpatient Medical Procedures clinic. She began her nursing career at Sunnybrook 36 years ago.
In 1996, I experienced at work what some may call divine intervention. Others may say it was sheer luck, or simply that I was in the right place at the right time. Whatever the reason, it saved my husband’s life and made me a better nurse.
I saw a bulletin for a lecture series at Sunnybrook on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. Prostate cancer was the furthest thing from my mind, but I felt compelled to attend and convinced my husband to join me.
The auditorium was packed. We listened attentively about how this relatively new blood test has the ability to detect prostate cancer. On the way home, I insisted that my husband get tested at his next physical.
I remember the doctor saying to my husband, “You’re perfectly fine. There’s only one thing I’m worried about and that’s your PSA level. You should see
The cancer was outside of his prostate gland. I remember the urgency, the fear, the anxiety and the relief. It was an early diagnosis and a lucky interception. Sunnybrook saved his life. Seventeen years later he is alive and well.
That experience was a defining moment in my career.
Science hasn’t always been on our side. When I trained as a nurse in the late 1960s, we didn’t have the medical advances we have today. We relied on the art of nursing – the art of empathy and caring. What I didn’t know then was that the art of nursing is learned through experience and the role models around you.
As nurses, we need to engage the patient and their family, and establish trust in a very short period of time. The journey I shared with my husband gave me the ability to truly empathize, to say with sincerity that, ‘I know what you’re going through and I am here to help you.’ When I can alleviate the fears and anxieties of my patients and their families, that’s when I feel the greatest satisfaction. – As told to Katherine Nazimek
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department, in consultation with Sunnybrook. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.