Our team’s health is in good hands.

Proactive thinking and relentless efforts by Syncrude’s Health Services team have been pivotal in keeping our workforce safe and community protected during the pandemic.

For Syncrude’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ahmed Elmezughi, and Health Services Leader, Gladys Hokanson ensuring the reliable delivery of medical, health, and wellness services to everyone in the organization is a full-time responsibility. Then COVID-19 happened. And suddenly those responsibilities—along with their workloads—took a whole new turn.

As an occupational health and safety professional you try to forecast potential threats to your staff’s wellbeing. You don’t anticipate having to deal with a pandemic.

– gladys hokanson

When it became apparent early in 2020 that the spread of COVID-19 to Alberta was imminent, protecting the health of Syncrude’s workforce—and the community as a whole— from the virus became their most urgent priority. Ahmed and Gladys and their teams immediately got to work developing a plan, educating people, and outlining procedures and practices within Syncrude to help keep operations running safely under unprecedented circumstances.

“In those early days, there were many inconsistencies in the information. Dealing with ever-evolving information was a big challenge. Our nurses and health team members were running off their feet, doing all they could to stay on top of it,” Ahmed added.

But as both will proudly attest, everyone continues to step up to the challenge and contribute to what have been largely successful outcomes in the continuing battle to protect people from the virus.

Their willingness to put in that 120%, to follow the Operational Discipline principles of asking questions, seeking to understand, collaborating with one another—it has truly been remarkable.

– Dr. Ahmed Elmezughi

“The whole Syncrude family is pulling together. They’re supporting each other. They’re intervening to keep each other safe. We definitely have had a ‘One Team’ mentality throughout the whole organization,” continued Gladys, a Registered Nurse.

Although the pair realize that the pandemic is far from over—it’s now into its third wave, with the majority of cases being highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus—they are optimistic about Syncrude’s workforce remaining committed to protecting one another’s safety until it is. When asked what they’re looking to most once COVID is behind us, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation from either one.

“We have a real family attitude at Syncrude. I think that social distancing and lack of personal interaction has been really difficult for a lot of people. I know it has been for me, so I look forward to being able to give people a hug again,” shared Gladys.

“Not having to worry about anyone in Syncrude contracting COVID ever again, that will be a high-five moment for me,” said Ahmed.

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