Our Healthcare Heroes

Although 2020-2021 has been a challenging year for all, it has also brought to light individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to care for others. A shining example of a group of these leaders are the staff and volunteers of the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre. Over the past year, they have come together in a time of great uncertainty and fear, to put the needs of the CBU community first. 

While our students understand the importance of mandatory isolation periods, it is not an easy thing to go through. In a time when fear and anxiety are heightened, a comforting voice goes further than we know. We’d like to introduce you to the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre team who have done so much to support our students over the past year. 

Lydia McIsaac is Cape Breton University’s Mental Health Nurse, and on top of providing mental health care for our students, she has been organizing the pop-up testing clinic at Centre 200 as well as at-home testing for isolating students. A comforting voice for many, Lydia assists with daily wellness checks and stocks the CBU van with testing supplies and comfort kits. During her chats with students, Lydia makes sure they are aware of the resources available to them, and helps book any necessary appointments or referrals. 

Leslie MacIsaac, Registered Nurse, quickly jumped into action when the pandemic hit, running the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre virtually. In addition to her standard responsibilities, over the past year Leslie has been making daily calls to students who test positive, checking in on their physical health and overall well-being. While completing her assessment over the phone, Leslie also helps students access community supports and healthcare services while in isolation. 

CBU Alumna, Neelima Singh, was hired as a coordinator to assist students going through quarantine or isolation processes. Collaborating with hotels and travel services, Neelima helps students through the experience from departure to arrival in Nova Scotia. She has also begun assisting the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre to track and document how many students are exposed to, or test positive for, COVID-19. She has been trained to conduct COVID-19 tests, and often works in the pop-up testing sites as well as the mobile testing unit. As someone who has experienced the international student journey, Neelima has been an incredible source of comfort for arriving students. 

As we know, COVID-19 has taken a toll on the mental health of many all over the world, and the CBU community is no exception. Thankfully, registered social workers Ed Burke, Darlene Fewer, and Shaelyn March provide not only counselling services but wellness checks and additional supports to our campus community as we move through this journey together. 

Wonderful teams are often driven by inspiring leaders, and Judy Kelley, Manager of Health and Counselling Services, has stepped up to the plate to lead this talented group of professionals. From mobile testing and assessments, to pharmacy visits and snack deliveries, Judy truly does it all. She is the official liaison for Public Health and Nova Scotia Health, and provides invaluable knowledge and experience during these challenging times. 

While Public Health is not required to notify Cape Breton University or the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre team when a CBU student tests positive for or is exposed to COVID-19, students who choose to notify the team are provided a number of services to ensure they are well taken care of during what can be a very frightening experience. 

Whether a student is completing their mandatory quarantine after entering the province, or tests positive for COVID-19 and informs the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre team, they are provided with daily phone calls to assess their mental and physical health. In addition to these check-ins, students can take part in counselling or other health appointments by phone. The team also assists in the purchase and delivery of medications and other necessities such as clothing and toiletries. We know that communicating with public health and other community health care providers can be nerve-wracking or new to our students, so the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre team also liaises with these representatives to help make the process more comfortable for students. 

In addition to the health services provided by the team, students can also acquire academic supports and exemptions when needed, and can receive helpful information about COVID-19 testing, protocols and vaccinations. None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the team at the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre who have been working around the clock to ensure students have everything they need. Each day they go above and beyond to provide care, compassion and understanding, during a time when it’s needed most. 

With the vaccination programs successfully rolling out across the country, we feel a great sense of hope. We look forward to a bright and prosperous future for the CBU community. Stay safe, Capers!

If you require health services, please contact healthservices@cbu.ca