Critical Care Nurse during COVID

Photo de Paméla Fernandez-Plante has been an intensive care nurse at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital since 2013.

Paméla Fernandez-Plante has been an intensive care nurse at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital since 2013.

In order to train their nurses in record time, the intensive care units have created triads. A nurse “leader”, supervising two “novices”. Pamela, nurse leader, testifies.

The context: a global pandemic

Normally, in order to be operational in the intensive care unit (ICU), a nurse undergoes 40 days of training when she arrives in the unit. For the pandemic, the department has put in place, in case of force majeure, an original solution that has reduced this time to … 4 days. Paméla Fernandez-Plante, an intensive care nurse since 2013, tells us about her experience as a leader.

Intensive care in the time of the pandemic

The beginning of all this was hard for me. Being a leader was a demanding job, both physically and mentally. It was insecure to lose control over our work environment, our organization, our routine, our care.

Learning how to manage a cardiac arrest

I did everything I could with the novices to be present, accompany them, listen to them, supervise, support and teach them at the same time. As an expert, dealing with instability and the unexpected is part of daily life, but for the novices, some events are significant, such as managing, for the first time, a patient who has had a cardiac arrest.

Novices have faced a multitude of events that may have destabilized them, which is normal. Intensive care is a specific specialty and the novices did not have full training before coming in as reinforcements. They completed their training on the job. It is in this type of situation that teamwork, between leader and novice, takes on its full importance.

Being a leader in times of crisis

Knowing that the workload depends on the stability of our patients, as a leader we have had to balance the care. In everyday life, it is important that chapters are organized according to patients and their changing needs.

In this way, we ensure that care and monitoring are effective and safe. The ideal organization would have been:

  • Unstable: He is taken care of by an expert.
  • Stable: He is followed by a novice and a leader.

In this way, we ensured that care and monitoring were effective AND safe.

Leader on all fronts

Finally, a nurse leader was also responsible for monitoring cardiac monitors, equipment and IS-specific protocols. While the accelerated training made it possible to respond to the emergency created by the pandemic, it could not replace the initial 40-day training, which included a lengthy learning curve for the management of monitors, electronic equipment, etc. The training was not designed to replace the initial 40-day training.

Nurse during a pandemic

As nurse experts in IS, we were the resource nurses for all new staff. I quickly realized how important, if not essential, my role was. Despite the difficult, burdensome circumstances, we remained focused on our common goal:

• Getting through these difficult times;
• To continue to provide quality, safe care.

We experienced strong emotions, endless stress and overworked shifts. Paméla Fernandez-Plante

One for all, all for one

We have been fortunate to have additional staff to be able to absorb the overload of patients hospitalized in the ICU. Without these nurses, respiratory therapists, orderlies, sanitation staff, administrative officers, physicians, medical residents, and so on, it would have been impossible for our usual team to do what we did.

Together, we have shown incredible resilience and adaptability. Together, we did the impossible! Paméla Fernandez-Plante

Pride and solidarity!

The leadership role was new to me, as it was to most ICU nurses. I am proud of the work we did together. I am prouder than ever to be part of the ICU team. Our team showed courage, dedication and a lot of solidarity.

This has been by far the greatest test of my career. Paméla Fernandez-Plante

Intensive care: trying them is adopting them

In the end, proof of the enormous solidarity and complicity between its members, five novice nurses asked to remain in intensive care. They will follow the classic 40-day training course at the beginning of the school year.

This reality demonstrated the importance of training, which guarantees optimal and safe quality care.


Without your support, the HMR and its teams would not have been ready to face this pandemic. Without your generosity, the Intensive Care Unit staff would not have had the equipment or access to the training required to adapt to the situation in a timely manner.

Your solidarity has made a difference in the past, it makes the difference today in the face of the pandemic, and it will make the difference again tomorrow.

Thank you for contributing to the Together for the HMR Fund!

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