Labour and delivery nurse
Elaine Lau’s first day as a labour and delivery nurse at St. Michael’s was nine years ago, but she remembers it as if it were yesterday.
The triage room was full of pregnant women who needed immediate medical attention. So were two overflow rooms down the hall. In the reception area, more moms-to-be with less urgent problems waited their turn. Elaine, along with the other nurses, moved deftly among the women, making sure each got what they needed.
Even though it was her first day, Elaine understood the women in her care needed more than just medical attention. They needed emotional support.
“It can be a scary and confusing time,” she says. “Triage nurses are the frontline, the first to comfort mothers and the first to coach them through contractions.”
This compassionate approach to care has guided Elaine throughout her career. It explains why she’s eagerly looking forward to the enlarged and better-designed triage room planned for St. Michael’s new Mother and Baby Care Unit.
The current cramped triage room can make giving patients the care they deserve a challenge. The area – roughly the size of a large living room – has space for just three beds, with only curtains separating patients and no way of ensuring privacy.
“I think our biggest problem has been the lack of privacy,” says Elaine. “It’s a vulnerable time for mothers. They’re exposed as doctors check them and of course we have to ask sensitive questions, including about women’s safety, if they’ve lost a baby before, or if they are taking drugs.”
Still, Elaine wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. “This is where I’ll have my baby,” she says, placing a hand on her swelling belly.