Grade 11 biology class is where Dalyce Gouin discovered a love for science.
When watching the movie Outbreak during a lesson on viruses, she was fascinated by the idea of preventing and controlling infection.
She was hooked, and she took her passions into a career in nursing and a leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A mom of three, Dalyce is the Manager of Clinical Operations at Overlander long-term care in Kamloops.
During her early years at Overlander, she became skilled at responding to outbreaks of infectious diseases, as both respiratory and gastrointestinal outbreaks came and went. It was good preparation for the skills she would utilize once the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Early in the pandemic, a non-COVID-19 respiratory outbreak was declared at Overlander. People living in the facility as well as staff were understandably nervous. But Dalyce and her team went into action.
“It was essential to have clear communication to all staff to work effectively through the outbreak and decrease anxiety,” she says. “Frequent huddles were initiated, concise and easy to understand plans were shared widely, and new communication tools were implemented to provide daily updates on residents with respect to infection control principles and the reasons behind them.”
Some of those communication tools were shared to other long-term care homes.
“Through the winter months of the pandemic, other sites experienced exposure events and reached out for support. I was able to share successes, communication tools and action plans with other sites to assist remotely and help prevent outbreaks,” says Dalyce.
In December, Overlander was notified that a person at the home had been exposed to COVID-19. It wasn’t an outbreak but the team decided to treat this situation as a practice run. Tension and anxiety was high, but frequent huddles and information sharing helped to ease fears as staff and individuals in care learned what they would do if COVID-19 did occur.
In February, a long-term care home in a rural community suffered an outbreak and Dalyce was asked to assist with clinical leadership at the site. Working in collaboration with Interior Health’s long-term care emergency response team, and in the spirit of being in this together, Dalyce and other leaders came to help, and the outbreak was eventually declared over with no further spread of illness.
She’s come a long way since Grade 11 biology, but Dalyce’s creativity and curiosity is helping to keep people safe.
When asked how we can be there for her during COVID-19, Dalyce had this advice.
“Continue to find creative ways to celebrate the successes, even the little ones. We are all in this together and we must continue to lift each other up and celebrate the amazing work that we are doing to keep everyone safe. This ongoing acknowledgement lets everyone on the team know they are valued, and how we are all doing our part to prevent the spread of infection.”