Recognizing Work of Nurses

While most of his buddies chose the sciences and business as their fields of study after graduating from high school, Chris Camilleri was unsure what he wanted to do.

“Those things just didn’t appeal to me and I wasn’t interestedin going that route,” he said, during National Nurses Week (May 8 to 14).

When his father and brother tried to persuade him to followthem in the trades, he resisted.

“I let them know that wasn’t for me,” Camilleri pointed out.

While reading a Humber College catalogue, their nursingprogram caught his attention.

“I like helping people and making a difference, so I knewright away this would be the perfect fit,” he said. “I went to the informationsession and was very impressed.”

He is one of two Toronto Police Service nurses available touniform and civilian members.

Camilleri joined the organization a year ago after serving asan occupational health nurse in Hamilton.

“I like this job because every day here is different,” hesaid. “We get calls from members looking to return to work and others who wantto come in and see us about something they think we could help them with. It’snormally general questions about their health. For those coming back after aninjury or illness, we are here to help them transition back into their originalroles. We want them to have fun at their jobs.”

Police officers are often confronted with emotionally-chargedsituations and Camilleri understands that.

“That’s why it's important for me to get where they arecoming from when they come to see me about a situation,” he said.

British-born Sandy Foster migrated to Montreal in 1975 topursue a nursing career after beinginspired by her grandmother, who was a health care worker.

“I was going to university to do a Bachelor of Science inEconomics and I already had my place secured,” she said. “Then, I just woke upone morning and decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore.”

Taking early retirement from St. Joseph’s Health Centre after26 years, Foster was introduced to Toronto Police Service through a friend.

“She told me they were looking for a nurse to do thelong-term sick benefits and I applied and was successful,” recalled Foster.“Because it was a part-time position, it worked well for me as I was alsohelping to set up the emergency department at the new Humber River Hospital.”

Foster said she relishes working with Service members.

“We are here to support them in whatever way we can,including ensuring that those with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) claimsget the adequate support they require,” she said. “The police are out theremaking sure that we are safe, so our role is to make sure they are fit andhealthy to do their job.”

“They are really important in the management of mostlynon-occupational injuries and illnesses that Service members experience,” hesaid. “They provide a number of roles such as support for our doctors duringappointments, in terms of taking notes and collecting information. They alsosupport our members by providing information about Service procedures, aboutthe doctors’ recommendations and setting up return-to-work plans andidentifying limitations or accommodations needs that members may have. Theyalso ensure that members’ illnesses and injuries are managed medically in anefficient manner.”

Joanne Gooding, a senior administrator, said the nurses are acritical resource.

“They work on assessing members’ fitness for duty,” she said.“They are the first level of contact, for the most part, for ill or injuredmembers. We are not a walk-in clinic, but they can come to our nurses who willtest their blood pressure and advise them if they need to go to a hospital.”

Two women are flanked by two men on each side. Everyone is posing for a photo inside an office environment
Robert Duncan, Chris Camilleri, Joanne Gooding, Sandy Foster, Dr. Craig Winsor and Dr. Scott Kapoor Photo: Ron Fanfair

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