Nurses Ann Bason and Brandon Hunt stand outside the new Langley Memorial Hospital entrance (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Nurses Ann Bason and Brandon Hunt stand outside the new Langley Memorial Hospital entrance (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Working during a pandemic; what it’s like for two nurses at Langley Memorial Hospital

COVID has changed a lot, but not their devotion to their profession

Ann Bason and Brandon Hunt followed different paths to the same destination – careers as nurses working at Langley Memorial Hospital (LMH).

Bason, known as “Mother Ann” to many of her colleagues at LMH, got into the profession on a whim, applying for admission to a nurse training program.

“I just did it as a lark,” she recalled.

“Just for a joke, I applied.”

Much to her amazement, she was accepted.‘“I was shocked.”

That was in 1967. Now 75, the registered nurse, who still works full-time, isn’t sure when she will retire.

Meanwhile, Hunt, a licenced practical nurse, was inspired to switch careers after seeing the care his mother received while she was dying.

“I became a nurse after my mom passed due to cancer,” he related.

“I was a high-rise construction foreman and it changed my life. I went back to high school, got my Grade 12. I went to college and I became a nurse.”

During the pandemic, their jobs have changed, and it is more than just wearing masks and gloves.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Retired Langley nurses loves caring careers

Hunt, who worked on the ward where COVID-19 patients are treated for awhile, rented separate accommodations in Langley so he could isolate from his family when he needed to.

And he did. Hunt was one of several nurses at LMH who contracted the virus while treating its victims.

“We had six nurses fall to COVID, including myself.”

He ended up spending Christmas away from his family, in his apartment.

“It was an interesting experience,” he said. “It was relatively mild.”

It’s the emotional impact that hits the hardest, he observed.

“We see how COVID affects our patients, we see how it affect their families, and we go through the same thing.”

“There’s nothing that prepares you to stand in front of a patient with COVID and hold up an iPad so family can say goodbye. It leaves a mark.”

Bason, who works with older patients who are especially vulnerable, has a personal perspective as a senior herself.

When she isn’t working, “I go to the grocery store, I go to the bank, that’s about it,” Bason confided.

She and her husband can’t have her grandchild over for a visit.

“It’s very frustrating” Bason said.

“We have a farm [in Aldergrove], so I can walk about the property and I can wave to the neighbour across the street,” she added. “I’m glad I don’t live in an apartment.”

READ ALSO: Langley hospice nurses feel calling for end-of-life care

Demonstrations of support during the early days of the pandemic made a big difference, Bason and Hunt said, calling it a huge boost to morale to see people banging on pots, and fire trucks and police driving by with sirens sounding.

“That amount of support carried us so far,” Hunt commented.”

“It felt like the public was right there behind you, and it was good,” Bason added.

There hasn’t been much of it lately, something she ascribed to COVID fatigue.

“I think people didn’t expect the pandemic to go on as long as it has.”

COVID has made their jobs more demanding and less certain as variants pop up and patients numbers rise, they said.

“That’s what we all fear, the unknown,” Hunt said.

“You get that drop in your stomach because you don’t know what’s next. We never really know what changes are coming. We are constantly trying to adapt to the flow of patients who come to the hospital.”

Bason called COVID “unprecedented” in its impact on the hospital.

Often, she said, the nurses are short-handed, which means they can’t spent as much time as they would like with individual patients.

“If you have to pick up another patient, it only adds to your workload,” she said. “You do your best.”

Hunt said the fact that LMH is a relatively small hospital is a positive for the nurses.

“We’re very close-knit, a very united nursing front. We know everybody there. There isn’t anybody who doesn’t know everyone.”

When COVID arrived, it was “unsettling,” Hunt recalled, but it wasn’t completely unfamiliar territory for medical professionals who have battled other viral outbreaks, he said.

“We’ve been through this before with SARS, with MERS. We’re kind of battle tested in that respect.”

Bason said the patients are what keep her on the job.

“I have met some very interesting patients in my time,” she remarked.

Like the man who was dying yet maintained a wonderful sense of humour to the end.

“He was so funny,” Bason remembered. “When he was alert, he just made you feel good.”

She recalled a moment with a woman who was unresponsive and close to passing.

“You’re going to meet my mom in the next world, and I hope when you meet her, you’ll tell her I was a good nurse,” Bason recalled telling the woman, “even if you have to lie.”

At that, the woman smiled.

“I think if I retired, that is one of the things I will miss,” Bason said. “I couldn’t imagine sitting down and doing an office job.”

Is there more to the story? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusLangley Memorial Hospitalnurse

Just Posted

Last year, strata president Rob Parker and his fellow owners were facing huge increases. This year, rates are down somewhat and owners are breathing a little easier. (Langley Advance Times files)
Strata insurance costs retreat after devastating spike in 2020

Many condos and townhouse complexes are getting a break after record hikes

Principal Chris Wejr and vice principal Mark Touzeau of Shortreed Elementary got all dressed up for their students in a tacky tourist greeting on Friday morning. (Michelle Greer/Special to The Star)
VIDEO: Tropical tacky tourists vacation at Shortreed Elementary

Staff dressed up on Friday morning and greeted students with grass skirts, sunglasses, and smiles

Otter Co-op. (Aldergrove Star files)
Co-op Community Spaces rebuilding community connections

Co-op is providing $1 million in funding for local projects as COVID-19 reopening gets underway

Martians have landed, and the invasion is being broadcast by students at H.D. Stafford school, performing their version of the famous Orson Welles radio production. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Mars attacks! And Langley students are broadcasting the invasion

H.D. Stafford students produce version of famed Orson Welles radio play

Una-Ann Moyer was one of several volunteers who installed 215 crosses bedecked with children’s clothes in memory of the Kamloops residential school victims at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum at 21559 Fraser Hwy. Langley on Tuesday, June 15. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: 215 crosses go up in Langley to remember Kamloops residential school children

‘Sadly, there’s going to be more,” organizer says

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Most Read