Bright Lights During Dark Times: Clifford’s Spotlight

When speaking to Clifford, it becomes apparent very quickly that he has a big heart and an even bigger sense of duty. 

Clifford is the night shift nursing team lead who had to step up in a big way when Grace, Bellwood’s head of nursing, was nearly locked out of the country after visiting her family on vacation. 

When Grace was overseas, coronavirus was just background noise. Numbers were beginning to grow in other areas of the world, but in Canada, most of us were blissfully unaware of the impending lockdown.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Begins

However, as time wore on and international borders tightened, it wasn’t certain whether Grace would be able to make it back to Canada, let alone back to work at Bellwood. When Grace was able to travel home, she needed to quarantine for two weeks, which is when Clifford stepped in and did what was necessary. While Grace was worried about the hole she would leave in the team by having to quarantine, Clifford assured her, “I got this.” To fill the void, Clifford took charge of the entire nursing staff in addition to his typical nursing duties.

Clifford Takes the Helm

Clifford insisted he “couldn’t let the team, or Grace, down,” and kept the nursing team tightly knit and functioning as a smooth unit. As events developed in the outside world and people began to isolate, Bellwood formed its pandemic response team of which Clifford was a crucial part. Clifford worked constantly to ensure that doctors’ and nurses’ schedules were up to date, as well as to assume Grace’s position at the helm of the nursing team. He provided hope, determination and optimism to everyone in an attempt to lead by example. “We’re here. There’s no turning back,” Clifford asserts, and it was his responsibility to ensure that patients and nursing staff were safe.

The Ever-Changing Pandemic

Creating and implementing protocols in a constantly-changing pandemic environment is a challenging and never-ending task. New developments happened “in an instant” and protocols were constantly changing at Bellwood to keep up with, and exceed, the evolving public health guidelines. Developing isolation protocols with doctors was a critical task to ensure everyone was safe to be at Bellwood. Clifford also directed scheduling and care, ensuring that patients got their medications on time and that doctors could have patient appointments at the right moment. He also brought it upon himself to lead and motivate staff, a tall task when many people are afraid of venturing both into the outside world and into healthcare facilities. 

Patients Felt Safer In Treatment

However, Clifford’s determination and commitment to serve helped patients feel safe. In fact, across our network of facilities, we’ve often heard throughout this time that patients have felt safer within our buildings than in their own communities. Some patients have even asked for extended stay to ensure they feel protected. We credit this feeling of safety to the impeccable care provided by people like Clifford, who are calm and focused in the face of a challenge. All it takes is one person to be a confident leader to help everyone stay grounded. Thanks to people like Clifford, there weren’t any crises at Bellwood to worry about.

Teamwork Makes For Excellent Patient Care

Like any good leader, Clifford insists that the nursing team’s success was due to their collaboration and the quality of their response to the pandemic crisis. Clifford admits he doesn’t like to take full credit for the success of Bellwood’s COVID-19 response. Other team members helped Clifford while he responded to additional supervisor duties: maintaining the work flow of the nursing station, adapting to a new schedule, climbing out from the mountain of extra administrative work, and being adaptable to the ever-changing coronavirus situation. As Clifford says, mimicking the oft-repeated unofficial slogan of quarantine, “we’re all in this together.” 

Learning Through Adversity

Clifford leaned fully into the difficult situation. One of his personal mottos is “you don’t learn when things are fine; you learn through adversity.” Perhaps having personal philosophies like this have equipped him to handle uncertainty and difficulty, things many of us have experienced to varying degrees during this pandemic. When Grace was able to return safely to work, Clifford took extra steps to ensure there was a smooth transition of leadership. He did not want Grace to be “thrown into the lion’s den” that was the pandemic chaos. 

A Natural Helper

Clifford is a natural at helping others. During typical operations at Bellwood, Clifford is the evening team lead, working 2:30-10:30pm to ensure that medical care of patients runs smoothly into the evenings once the day shift goes home. Nursing, after all, is a 24-hour profession. Patients need help beyond typical 9-5 hours, and it’s people like Clifford who help them. 

Clifford had been a cardiac nurse in The Philippines for 10 years before moving to Canada in 2015. He worked on the cardiac ward at Rouge Valley hospital in Scarborough and started working at Bellwood as a support counsellor before graduating to casual, part time, full time nurse, and finally team lead. He’s truly shone as he rose up the ranks here. 

Helping Patients Recover 

Clifford finds true pleasure in serving others and helping people overcome adversity. As an experienced cardiac nurse, Clifford views working in addiction and mental health a welcome opportunity; he finds great satisfaction helping people through their recovery, and he is honoured to witness patients as they recover. When a patient requires nursing support through medical detox and stabilization, they are at a powerfully vulnerable time, physically, mentally, and emotionally. People like Clifford make that time a little easier. 

Lessons From the Pandemic

Now that there is more hope in the news as new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from coronavirus begin to stabilize, things have slowed down a little for the nursing team. Everyone’s anxiety levels have subsided slightly as we have settled into a new routine at Bellwood. Clifford has already begun reflecting on his experience at the beginning of this quarantine and looking forward to the future, saying, thoughtfully, that it’s “only a matter of time before all this is over and we can look back on things we did.” 

We have no doubt that Clifford will be thoughtfully analyzing his team’s response to the situation. We are grateful to have him on the team at Bellwood. Without people like him and the rest of the hard-working clinical staff, we wouldn’t be able to provide the high level of care that we do. Thank you, Clifford, for stepping into an unfamiliar role when things got difficult and helping us get through these challenging times.

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Safety precautions against COVID-19

COVID-19 should not prevent someone from being able to receive life-saving addiction and mental health treatment. Rest assured that we are taking every step possible to protect our current patient population from contracting the infection.

Our facilities have policies and protocols in place to protect patients, including screening new patients, limiting visitors, and moving aftercare groups to online meetings.

Continue to our action plan to see what we are doing to protect our patients from COVID-19.