This week, February 20-24, hospitals across the province are celebrating Hospital Porters Appreciation Week, which is a perfect opportunity to learn more about how hospital porters fulfill a vital service for our hospitals, especially for patients.
“Within Island Health there are over 260 porters who move equipment, vital supplies, blood, medication and lab specimens to where they are needed most, and ensure patients are in the right place at the right time to get the care they need,” said Barb Hambley, Regional Coordinator of Logistics Porter Services at Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH). “They really are the heartbeat of Island Health hospitals.”
Barb Hambley, Regional Coordinator of Logistics Porter Services at Royal Jubilee Hospital
Behind the scenes, materiel porters deliver essential equipment throughout the clinical areas of the hospital, as well as ensure the equipment is disinfected and ready to use. In 2022, materiel porters delivered over 600,000 pieces of equipment; 23,000 blood and specimen samples; and answered over 100,000 calls at Island Health’s five hospitals in Victoria, Nanaimo, Campbell River and Comox.
Kim Hall is a supervisor of both patient and materiel porters at North Island Hospital, Campbell River. “Materiel porters disinfect and deliver equipment such as walkers, heart monitors, epidural and IV pumps, beds, stretchers, wheel chairs, commodes, and more. We also ensure everything is in good working order, so we have to know what the equipment is for and how it operates. Huge numbers of equipment go through our clean room every day.”
Kim Hall, supervisor of both patient and materiel porters at North Island Hospital, Campbell River
Porters are on the move and put in 20,000-30,000 steps in a day - that is a little more than half a marathon and nearly seven times the average number of steps Canadians take (4,800) each day!
“We are never just walking, but also moving patients and equipment, sometimes moving four IV Kits at once,” said Hall. “It’s a very physical job and I love the variety!”
On the frontline, patient porters become companions to patients throughout their hospital journey, offering a listening ear or simply a presence during a time when they are at their most vulnerable. Patient porters move patients from the operating room to a patient ward or between tests and procedures.
“It is a very rewarding job, we are always on the move, and no day is ever the same,” said Terry Fidler, who works as a patient porter supervisor at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. “In addition to having the opportunity to interact with patients and make a positive difference to their stay, I also enjoy getting to know the people who work in all the other departments of the hospital.”
Hospital porters also extend the same level of care and attention to the living as to those who have passed. In the eyes of a porter, care and compassion for each patient and their family is paramount. “Maintaining the dignity of each patient is of the utmost importance to our team members,” said Fidler. “We are rarely meeting people at their best; hopefully we can brighten their day a little by lending an ear and sharing a smile. I have learned to be a better listener.”
“Hospital porters are fortunate in that we have an opportunity to always go above and beyond, to act with compassion and kindness, to treat a patient like we would treat our own family member,” said Hall. Although different types of porters have specific tasks, to transport a patient from A to B, or move a piece of equipment from ward to ward, we always have an opportunity to make a difference to patient care, and that’s what I love about my job.”
Thank you to Island Health’s porters for providing care and comfort to people at some of the most challenging times in their lives. We appreciate you and are grateful for the difference you make.