Delivered With Care

Delivered with Care

SUPER STEWARD Dina Tom delivers care packages to nurses at Merritt's Coquihalla Gillis House.

Merritt nurse goes above and beyond to honour her co-workers during National Nursing Week

There is no question the COVID-19 outbreak has given British Columbians a greater awareness and appreciation of the important work nurses do to care for our seniors in long-term care facilities. 

BCNU steward Dina Tom wanted to take that appreciation a step further during this year's National Nursing Week. Tom works at Merritt's Coquihalla Gillis House. Nestled in the Nicola Valley, the 74-bed long-term care facility is staffed by 24 nurses, including Tom. 

"I wanted to include everybody!" Tom says when recalling her plan to create and safely deliver surprise care packages to her fellow members. 

May 11-15 saw BCNU leaders and stewards recognize nurses across the province, and Tom was certainly not the only steward who stuffed and delivered care packages to her colleagues during Nursing Week. But she took the opportunity to make sure that almost any local business had the opportunity to donate. 

"I wanted to include everybody!"

- Dina Tom

"I'm going to see what I can do, and just start asking people," Tom remembers. Donations were collected locally and placed in bags provided by BCNU and Starbucks, while a monetary donation was used to purchase Starbucks gift cards and gift cards for a local business, Kekuli Café Indigenous Cuisine.

"Everybody loves that place," says Tom. 

A local grocery store where the thoughtful BCNU steward once worked donated chocolate bars. "The owner wrote a note on each one: 'Thank you for all you do,'" Tom reports. "At another grocery store I was taken down the candy aisle and told to 'take 24 of whatever you want.' We had a candy bag for everyone!"

Tom says the gift bags were a big hit. "Chocolates, gift cards, a bag of candy, even masks – and my friend who is an author generously donated 24 copies of her book."

The care packages meant a lot to the BCNU members at Coquihalla Gillis House. "I've been a nurse for years and have never seen the nurses receive gifts," Tom notes. "One of our RNs, who has been nursing for over 30 years, made a point of saying 'I have literally never gotten a gift like this.'"

When she's not busy recognizing her fellow BCNU members, Tom enjoys her steward duties. "I like to assist people," she says. "If members need help to understand their contract, I can do that. If I can help, I like to."

Tom credits BCNU Thompson North Okanagan region steward-at-large Kyla Dres for the role she's now in. "She got me going," says Tom. "She knew I liked learning, so learning about our new contract was a huge selling point. I'm more familiar with the contract now and can find answers or language for someone. If you're not familiar with it, it's challenging."

The close relationship between nurses and residents at Coquihalla Gillis House is both fulfilling and challenging. "Unfortunately," Tom explains, "some residents don't have family and that's where we spend a lot of time with them. When they do pass away, it's hard on us."

Tom thanks the following Merrittonians and local businesses for donating toward her member appreciation efforts: Dean and Cora Tom; Kristy Henkes-Joe; Paul Lacerte; 4 Elements Mechanical Inc.; Nicola Valley and District Métis Association; Scw'exmx Child and Family Services Society; Nicola Valley Carpentry Ltd., Extra Foods and Save-On-Foods. •

UPDATE (Summer 2020)

UPDATED: November 18, 2022

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