For Toula Bannouvong, working as a nurse in the Renal Unit at the Regina General Hospital is a way to help patients undergoing dialysis and their families deal with an extremely difficult time in their lives.
“Imagine coming to the hospital every other day, getting hooked up to a machine for four hours, and doing that week after week,” she said. “It’s mentally and physically exhausting. Every day is hard for these patients and their families.”
With 40 stations and a plasma exchange, the unit sees an average of 100 patients per day in three treatment runs.
Because the unit is designed to provide specialized care for all patients in southern Saskatchewan, many people have to drive from smaller communities to get to the unit, even in adverse weather and poor road conditions.
“Not showing is not an option for these people; they need to have a treatment or they can get really sick,” she explained. “These patients spend a lot of time with us, so we really get to know them. We learn about their lives and families, and we share in their good days and bad days. In many ways, the unit feels like a family.”
A mother of four children aged 12 to 21, Bannouvong has been a licensed practical nurse (LPN) with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region RQHR for 17 years. She considers nursing to be her calling.
“I don’t believe I could do anything else,” she said.
I look at nursing as a privilege and an honour to be there at a vulnerable time in a person’s life and to have their trust as you help them through a difficult time. It is an honour to share in, and to be part of, their success stories.Along with her LPN training and experience, Bannouvong has specialized training as an operating room (OR) technician.
While her time working in the OR was short, she was amazed by the vast array of specialized medical equipment and instruments needed not only in the OR, but also for pre-operative, post-operative and recovery care. She says that having this technology is crucial to helping care for all patients. “From the simplest things like blanket warmers to the most complex diagnostic equipment, we need community support to help provide the care our patients deserve.”
Every day, Bannouvong sees first-hand how donations to the Hospitals of Regina Foundation are helping patients, and she is grateful to the donors for showing they care.
“As a health care professional, I would tell people that getting sick is not a choice,” she said. “No one wants to get sick or come to the hospital. We need donations to continue to help patients get better. I believe that as nurses and health care professionals, we are always striving to provide exceptional care and save the lives of our patients. Donations to our hospitals allow us to provide the best possible care we can.”