Monday, March 1, 2021

Beaulieu-Sirois making a difference during pandemic

It’s a moment that stands out in the mind of Andrée Beaulieu-Sirois.
“We recently got to take some of the residents outside for the first time,” said the member of the province’s PROMPT (Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Team) which is dispatched to long-term care facilities dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19 in the province.
“I’ll never forget the look on their faces, after all the isolation and staying in their rooms, it was so great to see the smiles on their faces.”
The act was a simple one, but during the global pandemic when many of the simple thing in life have been taken away or made much more challenging, Beaulieu-Sirois understands how extraordinary they can be for some people.
Since Jan. 11, she has been working in four different facilities as a member of the PROMPT team. A coordinator for adult residential facilities with the Department of Social Development, Beaulieu-Sirois decided to join because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.
“My supervisor approached me about going together as a team,” said Beaulieu-Sirois, president of the Clerical and Regulatory component represented by the New Brunswick Union (NBU). “I said yes because I felt it was a great way to give back.”
The next step was to talk with her two daughters and husband about the role.
“When I decided to do it, I sat down with them and explained why I wanted to do it,” she said. “I told them I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and this was my way to do it. They’ve been so supportive and proud.”
Part of her work involves assisting the employees of the home by helping deliver food to residents and other odd jobs to free up staff to provide care. She also gets to spend time with residents, helping them get through the isolation and connect with their families.
There’s a dedicated phone line for families to call so they can check in on their loves ones and be reassured that everything possible is being done to keep them cared for and safe. They also set up opportunities for the families and residents to connect through facetime.
“Some of the seniors are apprehensive at first because they are unsure what it is, but once they try it they really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s so important for them so they can maintain contact with their families.”
Once her 10-12 hour shift is over, she spends her evenings using facetime herself to connect with her husband and daughters as well as friends. In addition to the protective equipment she wears during her shift, she is tested every four days for COVID-19. Once the results come back negative she can visit her family for 24 hours before returning back to the facility.
In addition to connecting with the residents, Beaulieu-Sirois said the PROMPT team have bonded together which has been another rewarding aspect of the work.
“We have people from many different departments and even some people helping from Nova Scotia,” she said. “Some have gone back to their homes, but we’re all still keeping in touch with zoom meetings and email.
Despite the long hours, time away from her family and the risk to her own health, Beaulieu-Sirois is considering going to another facility to continue helping.
“I have to talk with my family because I’m a mom above all else,” she said. “It’s been a really great experience and I’m happy to be doing my part to help others. “All of this made me realize that in hard times, there’s always a group of dedicated professional people willing to go above and beyond to help out and make a difference in their communities.”