A welcome homecoming

Sarah Trenker wearing a mask

While worried about her two adult children living out of town, Sarah also had to navigate some big changes in her career. “In my role as an occupational therapist, I normally work with outpatients. Because we had to stop that part of our care I suddenly had to learn therapy for inpatient spinal cord and acquired brain injury patients. When the pandemic started, I cared for patients coming from regional centers who were isolated for 14 days and needed to receive therapy in their room.”

Sarah started working with a brand-new team, and was grateful for the support of the staff in the Acquired Brain Injury Program who were kind and helpful in making her adjustment easy. It was a relief for her since she had to make a few big adjustments at home. 

Sarah’s daughter works and lives in a heavily congested and populated area in Toronto, so she moved back in with her mom for her safety. Sarah’s son decided to stay in Waterloo, despite all his friends leaving, to finish his fourth year of school and reduce his exposure to his family. “It was very hard not seeing my son for three months and worrying whether I might bring the virus home to my daughter.”

Sarah not only felt the sting of not seeing her son, but she also saw it in her patients, “For so many years our patients have been able to have their loved ones see them, every day if they want. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear our patients tell us how they hadn’t seen their children or their spouses for months, as they progressed thought their care to rehabilitation. I hope we don’t ever see patients separated from their loved ones again.”

Now that the care that was put on hold due to the pandemic is slowly being reintroduced Sarah is finding a lot of inspiration in caring for her regular patients again. “When our outpatients came back for occupational therapy, and saw everyone in our gym it was like a home-coming. They were so happy to be back! We really care about our patients and were worried about them for months - to have them back, and hear about how they are doing, despite the limitations that the pandemic has imposed on them, is the best feeling.”

Back to all Stories

Other Stories

Stacey Tarkowski behind the mask

Kneading a helping hand

Stacey gets emotional when she thinks about what life has been like over the past year. Living through the pandemic has given her a newfound appreciation for her family, friends, health and career. It reminds her not to take anything for granted and help others whenever possible. Stacey is a...
Read more
Makayla Huffman behind the mask

A simple exchange

Makayla was feeling quite overwhelmed and anxious when the pandemic began. She was aware the pulmonary function clinic was going to be closed temporarily, and that she was going to be sent to work in another area, but she didn’t know where. “Our team became closer as we were all going through...
Read more
Rhianne Chalmers and her dog Sully

A hairy situation

While attending school, Rhianne Chalmers started a part-time job as a dog groomer and quickly fell in love with the job. She worked as a groomer for nearly six years before opening her own shop in Kilworth-Komoka last summer. She was driven to succeed and the business was already seeing encouraging...
Read more