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Alumna Natalie Cheng cares for COVID patients

Jun 9, 2020

Natalie Cheng

Photo above: Natalie Cheng

When Natalie Cheng graduated from the BScN program at McMaster University in 2018, she and her classmates knew they would be facing tough challenges. After all, nursing is not a job for the timid. However, few expected they would be nursing during a global pandemic.

After only a couple of years in the field, Cheng is now employed as a registered nurse at the St. Joseph’s Hospital intensive care unit where she is caring for patients including those with COVID-19.

The pandemic has dramatically changed her work. “There have been a lot of policy changes in the last little bit, and we have adapted quickly to the safety measures required to protect everyone. It has been a stressful time. However, we have taken measures to adapt to the new situation. We’ve done simulations for code blues and intubations, and we have tried to create a better process for patients, especially in the negative pressure rooms. I was in one of these rooms during a code experience. Despite the urgency, it was very reassuring to know that everyone very skilled in their roles and we were unified as a team. Later on, the patient was stabilized and ended up going up to the floor.”

Cheng notes, “Being able to serve the public during such a time as this, with such a wonderful team, has allowed for great cohesiveness and collaboration within our health care team.”  

Cheng states that McMaster has prepared her well for COVID-19. “My clinical practice instructors and teachers provided me with the necessary skills and attitude to face the pandemic. They provided the building blocks for me to be the kind of nurse required in these kinds of situations – professional and equipped with the ability to practice with integrity and heart.”

What keeps Cheng strong and helps her cope with the crisis? At this time, Cheng isn’t living with her parents, which in a way is a relief because she doesn’t have to worry about bringing it home to them. “I do my best to make time for myself and the people who are important to me. I talk to friends by phone maybe once a week.  Also, exercise is very important for me. I go out running in areas where there are not many people. I try to eat well and sleep as much as I can.”

She also relies on her colleagues at work. “I have a second family there. We talk to each other. We take care of each other.” It’s what nurses do.  

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