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Nurse coasts her way to work aboard the West Coast Express

Cara Muller

Cara Muller is a dialysis nurse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our world, challenging us to improvise, adapt and overcome.

We’re now throwing surprise birthday parties for each other on Zoom, participating in new, viral dance challenges and many people have transitioned to working from home.

On transit, we’ve implemented different measures to promote physical distancing for customers and bus operators like Bryan Stebbings, and SkyTrain Attendants like Ryan Mendoza have had to change up how they help customers who are visually impaired navigate the system.

But no group has been challenged and risen to the occasion more than healthcare and workers like Cara Muller. She’s a nurse that trains patients on how to perform dialysis at home.

Kidneys act as filters, removing wastes and extra fluid from our bodies. When our kidneys no longer work properly, dialysis is needed. It often involves diverting blood to a machine to be cleaned. Dialysis can be done both at hospitals and at home, depending on the patient.

Her role is all about supporting patients who are taking care of their own medical needs, whether that’s through in-person training or chatting with them over the phone.

These days it has become a lot of phone calls and the training list has become quite full with patients preferring to do their training sooner rather than later.

Like many others in our communities, she’s dependent on transit to get to work. Every day, along with at least a dozen others on her floor at work, she takes the West Coast Express into downtown Vancouver.

“I do it because it’s faster than driving and less stressful,” says Cara.

A West Coast Express train at Waterfront Station

The West Coast Express is our commuter rail service that operates during peak morning and evening periods between downtown Vancouver and Mission. For those who take it, it’s a treat, offering an unparalleled transit experience where one can enjoy the serene Burrard Inlet against the backdrop of North Vancouver’s sweeping mountains.

In the mornings, trains start departing Mission at 5:25 a.m., stopping in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody along the way, and start arriving at Waterfront Station at 6:40 a.m. The trains then make the reverse trip in the afternoon, starting at 3:50 p.m.

Even though there’s now free parking at hospitals and there’s considerably less drivers on the road, she’s still choosing to take the West Coast Express because its feeling of community is so attractive to her.

She’s been taking the West Coast Express for about ten years now, so she’s gotten to really know the attendants and conductors — many of whom are long-time employees.

“I like the time of being on the train getting ready for work or de-escalating from work on my way home,” she says. Cara admits these days her commute home is a lot of watching Dr. Bonnie Henry deliver her daily updates to British Columbians.

Cara has this message for all us: “I think if everybody just keep doing what they’re doing, I think we’re gonna get out of this okay.”

And asked what she’s looking forward to most when the pandemic’s over, Cara responds, “Probably just seeing everybody and hanging out in groups again.

“Our neighbourhood is pretty social, so it’s been kind of hard just waving at people and not stopping and really chatting like we usually do.”

Us too.


2 Comments

  • By Dimitrina Vasileva, April 11, 2020 @ 4:57 pm

    An upset mother visiting her child asks that he be medicated for pain. Before the nurse has a chance to assess the child, the mother’s request escalates to a demand, a threat and then an altercation in which she pushes the nurse into a wall, causing injury. These fictional scenarios are within the realm of possibility in healthcare. Nurses go to work each day to provide excellent patient care, achieve quality outcomes and make a positive difference. They don’t expect to be victims of violence from patients, family members or visitors — and certainly not from their co-workers. But they sometimes are.

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