Episode 9

Frontline Health Care Workers on Covid-19

Are you tired of hearing about Covid-19? People telling you to wear a mask? Social distancing? Us too but it's still going on so we thought we would bring you a first-hand account from Frontline Health Care Workers Andrea and Cathy on what it's like working in a hospital with Covid-19 at this time and what our best actions are to prevent the spread. 

Andrea and Cathy are both respiratory therapists at The Ottawa Hospital.

Andrea and Cathy's Biographies


I was born and raised in Pickering Ontario, studied Health Sciences at Queen’s University where I received my Bachelor of Science then went to The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences in Toronto and received by Respiratory Therapy Diploma in 2005. I have been working as a front line Respiratory Therapist for 15 years. I have lived in Ottawa and have been working at The Ottawa Hospital General Campus for 13 years.

I had no idea what a Respiratory Therapist was until I went on an open house tour of The Michener Institute with my father in high school. When I was told that there were these health professionals who ran around the hospital helping the sickest of the sick with their cardio-respiratory issues, I thought, sign me up! 

Every day in the hospital is a different day. From taking a blood sample that will reveal whether you can get government funding for oxygen at home to putting a breathing tube into your lungs and placing you on a ventilator to take over the effort of breathing so your body can focus on fighting an infection, then running to a CODE BLUE cardiac arrest, every day is different and exciting. We are one member of a big team of allied healthcare professionals who work with doctors and nurses to keep patients safe and healthy. I think one of the most fulfilling parts of being an RT is that since we work everywhere in the hospital we can see patients come into the Emergency Department, get stabilized in the Intensive Care Unit, graduate to the wards and work on discharging them home.  

In terms of treating patients with Covid, we have always treated patients with severe respiratory distress. It’s our job. It’s always been our job. Now, this is a fickle disease that doesn’t affect everyone in the same fashion and it’s also easily spread which has changed how much PPE we wear into rooms and around the hospital not really how we treat our patients. I feel for them, it’s a very isolating disease. TOH has only just started to allow visitors, but it is much more strict than pre-covid. 


I was born and raised in Ottawa. I grew up in a fantastic family that encouraged learning and creativity. Initially, I thought my career would be in science research. Thus my post-secondary education began with a degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Guelph. While I loved the subject matter I discovered research wasn't for me. I had been looking into various medical fields with which to further my education when I was introduced to Respiratory Therapy. It is a wide-ranging field that goes from community care to individuals on life support. The days are entirely unpredictable and thus require a wide variety of skills. These complex issues drew me to the profession. I attended Algonquin College, then joined the staff at the Ottawa General Hospital. I have been working there for 13 years.

Respiratory Therapists have been an integral part of the hospital's Covid-19 response. As this is primarily a respiratory illness we have had a large role in treating Covid-19 patients. While the nuts and bolts of our job have remained the same, working during a pandemic is a stressful time. New data is presented daily requiring staff to adapt quickly. Patients who are also dealing with a new disease is an isolating time. It is an ever-evolving situation that we are all hoping to have seen the worst of.


Ottawa Public Health - Covid-19


Evidence on Mask Wearing from Dr. Richard Davis of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Centre - Click Here to See The Photo

Government of Canada - Covid-19


The Ottawa Hospital


About the Podcast

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Have a Little Insight
Have a Little Insight with Jennie Leaver is a podcast about exploring topics that strive to deepen our human experience and our connection to ourselves and the people around us.

About your host

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Jennie Leaver

Jennie is a Designer with a 15-year background in hospitality. Passionate about making a difference in this world, she teamed up with Ryan in 2019 to create Have A Little Insight after the two met waiting tables at Milestones Bar and Grill.

“I want to contribute to the good in this world. There is enough bad news, negative slants on things and anger. I want to bring people a different perspective, where we strive to create understanding, compassion and kindness. Where we look for the good and how we are connected as opposed to operating from fear, judgement and separation.”