Shelby Bay, of Cochrane, is a registered nurse with the Red Cross, who has been working at the COVID-19 testing centre in Red Deer. (Contributed by Canadian Red Cross)

Shelby Bay, of Cochrane, is a registered nurse with the Red Cross, who has been working at the COVID-19 testing centre in Red Deer. (Contributed by Canadian Red Cross)

Red Cross nurses arrive in Red Deer

Two registered nurses working at COVID-19 testing centre

Two registered nurses with the Red Cross have arrived to help out at the Red Deer COVID-19 testing centre near Westerner Park.

At the request of Alberta Health Services, Shelby Bay and George Rudanycz are working to augment or relieve existing staff, and are freeing up medical personnel to work elsewhere in the provincial health system.

Shelby Bay, of Cochrane, said getting a nose swab is a kind of a weird process and causes some people anxiety. But many say it is only as bad as the feeling of getting chlorine water in their nose while swimming, and it only lasts for a few seconds.

“The majority of people I’m testing, once they’re finished they’re like — oh, that’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” said Bay who was previously deployed to Manitoba and the Northwest Territories where she spent time in emergency rooms, administered COVID-19 tests, supported vaccination clinics, and worked on the front lines of community health.

The University of Alberta grad joined Red Cross after moving back to Alberta in the fall of 2020 from a community nursing position in Nunavut.

She said most people who come for testing are thankful to have access to test results to ease their concerns and allow them to continue their activities.

Bay arrived in Red Deer on Friday. Prior to now, the closest she has been to Red Deer was Gasoline Alley.

“I’m surprised. I’ve never been to Red Deer. It’s fantastic. I’ve never had the chance to go in for any reason. It’s a great little city,” said Bay who will work in the city for at least two weeks.


Red Deer’s COVID cases fall to 442

Rudanycz, of Sarnia, Ont., came out of retirement to support the COVID-19 response in Canada, and has been in Red Deer for about two weeks.

He spent 38 years as a critical care nurse before retiring in 2019 but became one of the first Canadian Red Cross humanitarian health care workers to support COVID-19 operations.

He helped screen cruise ship travellers returning to Canada at CFB Trenton, and later worked at COVID-19 vaccination centres in remote fly-in communities in Northern Ontario and at workplaces in Toronto.

Rudanycz said he can see in people’s eyes that sometimes they’re worried about the test so he lets them know that he is a registered nurse which comforts them.

“(Nurses are) probably the main cog in the wheel that keeps everyone safe and healthy. Without us, life would be much more difficult. I find everywhere I go, they’re so dedicated to their profession and trusted by the public,” Rudanycz said.

“Nursing has always been hard. It’s a tough job with long hours, many shifts. The pandemic does make it harder, but I think most nurses take it as a challenge.”


COVID-19 testing moving to meet increasing demand

In the coming days and weeks, up to 20 Red Cross medical personnel will be offering their support in hospitals, testing and vaccination centres in such locations as Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Wetaskiwin, and Lacombe, at the request of the government of Alberta and thanks to funding from Public Safety Canada.

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