I am the I in IWK – Lissette Zamora, Shift Lead Door Screening

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As patients, families, and staff enter the health centre they are now greeted by a different scene. Rather than our regular information booths and buzzing activity, the first face we (partially) see now is that of our new door screeners. One of those, is new IWK team member, Lissette Zamora, shift leader of the door screener team.

“I like that we’re the first line of in-person contact for the IWK right now,” says Zamora about the new position. “It’s a big responsibility that we have. I’ve always wanted to work for the IWK so when I saw the listing, I figured I’d give it a chance and apply!”

Zamora is from Ecuador and moved to Halifax seven years ago to study at Dalhousie University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in neuroscience and business. “I love helping people and I think I’m a very caring person. Even though we’re not the frontline care providers, I feel that we’re still helping by keeping everyone safe.”

COVID-19 screening has been happening at IWK entrances since the pandemic response began in March. At first, staff was pulled from other IWK Health areas that had reduced their hours or temporarily closed. Once it was realized that door screening would be needed for quite some time, the Patient Safety & Experience team began the process of creating a dedicated door screening team and hiring between 25-30 new staff to fill the role.

“As door screeners we are responsible for making sure that anyone coming into the health centre has an appointment here that day, we check that they are on our list and then we do our COVID-19 screening questions. We have our processes if they do screen in for any symptoms and for support persons.”

“It’s nice being the first face they see when they come in. We get to talk to them and help however we’re able, sometimes that’s guiding them to where they need to go or telling a joke to help put them at ease. Other times it could be more complicated like helping them understand support person restrictions and trying to accommodate when possible.”

“This is relatively new for everyone, so of course there can be frustrations from those coming in around the new procedures. Everything that we’re doing is for the best for everyone, we are trying to keep people safe. It may feel like these screening questions are being asked over and over again but it’s not about just one person, it’s about everyone doing their part.”

As procedures and restrictions constantly change on a federal, provincial, and organizational level the door screeners have to know the latest updates to do their job properly. Zamora says that establishing clear lines of communication has been an important part of the new role. Logistics are still being ironed out as this brand-new team forms and health care workers and door screeners learn the role together.

“The IWK is a huge organization, and many clinics are involved with the patients that are coming for appointments. Right now, we’re picking up our paperwork every morning from Health Records about who is coming in for appointments that day, but many things can change from the time lists are submitted and throughout the day. We have open lines of communications with the clinics to discuss patients who are coming in, but it is still a learning curve for everyone involved, including the patients and families.”

Zamora says the team is constantly trying to improve, she credits the support of management and flexibility of the door screeners team in being able to roll with whatever comes their way. “Everyone is always so willing to work together. I feel so lucky with the team I’m on; I feel very supported from every direction.”

“We appreciate everything that everyone has been doing to help support our new roles, Health Records, Protection Services, everyone has been so wonderful and we are very grateful for their help. Everyone understands it’s an important job, and we have a big responsibility, and we just ask for respect and patience from everyone.”