NL team happy to help fellow Canadians

By: Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
He’s usually one of the ones getting on the plane, but Andrew Furey was at St. John’s International Airport Tuesday as Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier to see off his wife, Allison, and eight other medical professionals on a unique relief mission within Canada’s own borders.
The team — three doctors, a nurse practitioner and five registered nurses — is a contingent sent to Ontario via a Canadian Forces Hercules transport plane to help alleviate the burden on health-care workers in that province.
They gathered for a sendoff in a small military hangar on a wet and windy morning about an hour before departing.
Ontario is in the middle of a third wave of COVID-19 and has been averaging between 3,500 and 4,000 new cases per day, and has more than 850 people hospitalized in ICU.
Premier Doug Ford has asked for any support he can get from the federal government and the provinces.
“If I can go up there and relieve someone … give them some reprieve, then I’m happy to do that,” said Dr. Allison Furey, the premier’s wife and an emergency room doctor at the Janeway children’s hospital.
“My colleagues are very supportive. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them,” she said.
Asked whether her experience will be different from those she and her husband have been on in Haiti under the Team Broken Earth banner, Allison had a simple answer.
“Medicine is medicine wherever you go,” she said.
The premier admitted he was a little jealous to be seeing his wife off instead of playing medical missionary as he’s done so often.
But he said he’s extremely proud of her and the others.
“I look around the room and see all the people that stepped up and their families and hear the stories about how they put their hands up right away, it’s incredible. That’s the spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.
“This is an example of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians stepping up to answer the call, and I think we should all be, collectively as a province, proud of these individuals and their families for making this sacrifice to help the Canadian collective effort.”
Another of the team members, critical care nurse practitioner Jennifer Hinks, told reporters she felt a duty to help her fellow health-care workers.
“As health-care professionals, we’re all linked to each other, no matter where we live,” Hinks said.
The group’s time in Ontario will vary. Some will return after 10 days, while others may stay for a few weeks.
They’re all fully vaccinated, and will be teamed with colleagues in the Toronto area.
Plans to send another contingent are in the works.