In 1971, the May 12th birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale was declared International Nurses Day and since then, the second week of May has become a week-long commemorative event to emphasize the profession’s accomplishments as a discipline. Now in 2021, the persistent COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light, more than ever, the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and the important role they play in our community.
The Comox Valley is home to hundreds of nurses working in a variety of essential roles in our community, long-term care and at the Comox Valley Hospital. One of these hardworking nurses is Sarah Savage, a Senior Nurse Consultant for Geriatric Specialty Services at the Comox Valley Hospital.
“What I love about nursing is that it isn’t just one career. There are multiple aspects of nursing you can do under one large umbrella and it is a job you can do anywhere,” reflects Savage.
A veteran, registered nurse of over 40 years, Sarah has embraced a work hard, play hard mentality throughout her career. She has worked in four Canadian provinces and in a variety of different nursing roles, from the busy Emergency Department of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria when she was a young graduate to an emergency room in Saskatchewan that had no physicians, experiences she humbly describes as “a bit intimidating.”
Sarah’s nursing roles in the Comox Valley have been equally as varied and rewarding. Her husband’s career with the Air Force brought them to Courtenay in 1988 and, in addition to raising a family, Sarah taught nursing, worked on the frontline, held clinical coordinator positions, and worked in the community.
“I love what I am doing right now. I assess and advocate for seniors who come into the hospital and work closely with community physicians, occupational therapists, other nurses, doctors, and geriatric psychiatrists,” explains Savage, “I get to really understand seniors and the healthcare issues and challenges they are experiencing.”
When asked to reflect on the significance of International Nurses Day and the collective pride and celebration that is part of it, Sarah recalls a conversation she had with Sister Pat at St. Joseph’s many years ago.
“Being a nurse allows you the opportunity to be with people in situations you normally wouldn’t find yourself in. You are with them when they are in pain, sometimes even when they are dying. Simply holding someone’s hand and attending to them is so special, it is not something you can put words to. It is just a privilege,” reflects Savage.
Sarah has made the difficult decision to retire at the end of June. While she is excited about the opportunity to spend more time outdoors biking, running, and paddling, she admits she is embracing this next chapter with mixed emotions and will greatly miss the people and patients she works with.
“I have so appreciated my colleagues’ support, and the way we look after one another. It’s an incredible community to be a part of. Someone said to me that when something happens to you in the Comox Valley, it’s like the community is giving you a big hug and I personally have felt that. We all come together and I am very grateful we do,” says Savage.
The Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation is launching their 50/50 raffle on International Nurses Day to honour the important role nurses play in the community and to offer an exciting, unique way to show support for exceptional local healthcare. Presenting sponsors, Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group and Mindset Wealth, iA Private Wealth, encourage everyone to get involved to optimize the community’s benefit. Funds raised through the raffle will help the Foundation provide medical equipment and technology. Current priorities include special surgical tools and equipment, critical testing and monitoring technology, and important provisions for the maternity department at the Comox Valley Hospital. Purchase 50/50 tickets online and help spread the word. Bang your pots and pans, tell your friends, click share… whatever it takes!
“On behalf of the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation Board and Staff, we offer our congratulations and sincere appreciation to Sarah for her many years of service. On this commemorative day we also want to thank all of the nurses in our community who bring their knowledge, skills and dedication when caring for all of us.” Bill Anglin, Board President
Sarah Savage, Senior Nurse Consultant for Geriatric Specialty Services at the Comox Valley Hospital, retires on June 30th after a rewarding nursing career of 40 years.
Article by Marcie Dumais, originally published in the Comox Valley Record and the Totem Times.