May 6th to 12th is National Nursing Week, a week-long commemorative event culminating on Sunday, the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. It has become a tradition at the Foundation to share a local nurse’s story during this special week to help our community get to know some of the nurses providing care and to highlight the tremendous impact that nurses collectively have on individuals and our community.

Work hard. Play hard. That pretty much sums up Tanya Del Bianco and many of her colleagues at the Comox Valley Hospital.

Tanya grew up in Ontario and went to high school in Kingston. She completed her bachelor’s in nursing at Ottawa University in 2008. Shortly after she graduated, she received specialized critical care training and eventually earned a full-time position in the neuro-vascular-trauma intensive care unit (ICU) at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Del Bianco loved her high-paced job and her caring co-workers, but small-town BC and the possibility of year-round outdoor adventure inspired her and her spouse to tour the province to find a new place to call home… a place small enough to enjoy the feel of a tight-knit community, but large enough to have an ICU within the local hospital.

“We lucked out when we found the Comox Valley in 2011… ocean, rainforest, and endless adventure. It felt like a dream come true when I was offered an ICU/ER float position at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital,” remembers Tanya.

Thirteen years later with two active young boys and two husky dogs adding to the energy of their comfy Cumberland home, Tanya works in many different roles at the Comox Valley Hospital. Her primary role and the type of nursing she has always been drawn to is her half-time position in the Emergency Room. She also picks up casual shifts in the Maternity Department having completed a perinatal specialty a few years ago. Further specialty areas include working with the Collaborative Emergency Response Team, as a MAID RN, and as a clinical educator with 19 Wing Search & Rescue Technicians. Tanya loves the variety in her work as a registered nurse.

When we asked Del Bianco about a career highlight, she shared an encounter she had with someone while she was out and about in the community. The individual indicated some recognition and finally remembered that Tanya had been her nurse. She then shared the following words that Tanya reminds herself during tiring workdays when she is pushed to her limits:

“I can’t really remember what you said or did, but I remember how you made me feel. Thank you.”

The care that nurses provide has a profound impact on patients. Within the different departments that Tanya works, she is often caring for people during their most vulnerable life circumstances, it might be someone’s worst day or their best. Tanya realizes that her care can really influence a patient’s experience and she doesn’t take that responsibility lightly, nor do her colleagues.

“I work in one of the best ER departments because we work as a team, we support each other, and we try to keep smiling even when the conditions are really difficult… we continue to face challenges, but we keep showing up and rolling with the challenges and changes we face,” explains Del Bianco.

Tanya also reflected on donors from the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation and the huge impact donations have on how care is delivered. She spoke of the difference the pay-it-forward approach is having and the uplifting result of knowing donors have the backs of those on the frontline.

Del Bianco will continue to work hard in her varied nursing roles. With local trails and backcountry her happy place, whether it is running, mountain biking, or adventuring with her family, she will play hard too because that is what life is all about here in the Comox Valley.