At the beginning of 2020, the World Health Organization declared this the Year of the Nurses and Midwives, and it has been exceptionally fitting.

Syncrude wants to thank and celebrate the important work of our Occupational Health Nurses this week during National Nursing Week in Canada.  

Our nurses at the Health Centre and Health and Wellness Teams have been working tirelessly during Syncrude’s COVID-19 response. Teams include 34 Registered Nurses (RN) and four support staff. Each week, the teams handles several hundred calls from individuals seeking clarification on or reporting COVID-like symptoms. 

“The level of care and professionalism that our Syncrude nurses provide is absolutely top-notch and I am so proud to work with these individuals. The last few months have been challenging for our organization and the work by our nurses to step up and support people at Syncrude is simply outstanding,” says Dr. Ahmed Elmezughi, Syncrude’s Chief Medical Officer. 

Syncrude has two Health Centre locations – one at each mine, Mildred Lake and Aurora.

Registered Nurses (RN) provide the highest level of medical care on site, and they work closely with Emergency Services for response in the field and emergency transfers off site when required. The team is highly trained with occupational health, emergency room, and/or critical care experience. 

The Health and Wellness team is also comprised of RNs with occupational health training, who use their strong assessment skills to support employees who are off work on disability for greater than 48 hours, or at work on temporary disability. This includes the many calls each day related to COVID-19 questions and illness reporting. Health and Wellness Advisors work with the employee, leadership, local healthcare providers, Human Resources and the Health Centre – all to help facilitate a safe recovery and return to work. The team also works closely with Employee and Family Assistance Program provider Morneau Shepell.  

“Every day, the nurses at Syncrude work hard to ensure our Syncrude family is well taken care of. They provide care if we get ill or are injured at work, from the minute we make that call and all the way through to recovery,” says Dr. Elmezughi. 

Syncrude nurses work tirelessly to ensure our health needs are met, while on Syncrude sites and while recovering at home. After providing the immediate emergency medical care needed, Syncrude nurses provide support during our recovery process, and monitor progress for a safe transition back to work.

-dr. Elmezughi

Registered Nurse and Health Services Area Leader, Gladys, Hokanson, agrees that the level of care provided by Syncrude RNs and support staff is incredible. 

“Our dedicated nurses have been putting their own personal needs aside to ensure the health of our people. The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve for the last few months and both our Health Centre, and Health and Wellness teams have continued to provide accurate guidance and personal care,” says Gladys. “I have been a nurse for 28 years and working with our team of nurses at Syncrude for 18 years, and 2020 is a year that will go down in the books as one I am most proud of. Thank you to all of our health staff for all that you do.”  

Dustin Evans, a Syncrude Pipefitter, goes above and beyond every day to keep his family safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Dustin’s wife, two children and dog are his first priority and the reason he takes extra precautions to combat the spread of COVID. “Both of my kids have asthma, making them even more vulnerable to the virus,” says Dustin. “My wife and son Ethan, who also has type one diabetes, had signs of COVID earlier this year, but thankfully tested negative. It scared us and acted as a real wake-up call. Since then, we’ve put more measures in place to keep our family safe during this pandemic.” 

The first thing I do when I land in my driveway after a day of work is sanitize my badge, keys and cell phone. Then I change my clothes in the garage, and wash them separately from my family’s laundry, just to be extra safe.

– dustin evan

Dustin then heads straight to the shower to clean up and disinfect, bypassing his dog at the door, eagerly waiting to greet him. “Only once I’ve cleaned up will I finally greet my wife, kids and dog.” 

Dustin is the only one from his household that goes out to buy groceries – reducing the amount of interactions his wife and kids have with the public. After returning home from grocery shopping, Dustin and his wife take the time to wash the produce and wipe everything down before putting the items away, so that they’re sure everything has been disinfected. 

Gilles Champagne, part of the Compliance Monitoring Team appreciates the work employees are doing to stay safe: “I think it’s fantastic to see how Syncrude employees are following the protocols put in place. It’s also great that employees understand the fight against COVID-19 does not end once you leave the gate, as most have families to protect at home.” 

“Think about it as if you already have the virus, and are trying to not spread it,” says Dustin in closing.

Our employees are grateful for all essential workers including truck drivers, grocery staff, energy workers and health care providers during this crisis.

Here’s Team 502 Mildred Lake Mining sounding their horns as a salute.