Know your Heroes: Dr. Nadia Farooki

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day.

Name: Dr. Nadia Farooki
Role: Emergency Physician, UHN
Hometown: I was born and grew up in Montreal. I moved to Toronto right after residency in 2009.
Years in health care: 11

I decided to get into health care because I am the sixth generation of doctors in my family. It must be in my genes. Growing up, I never thought I would be anything else. People would ask me if I was sure. I was.

My role as an Emergency Physician at UHN is to care for those who need it the most, those who are too sick to ask for help, and those who have nowhere else to go. In my role as simulation director for the Emergency Department, I teach and help improve our processes through our Simulation Program. Simulation played a big role in preparing us for COVID-19. We practised protected code blues, donning and doffing personal protective equipment, and intubating within a box or plastic sheet, all in an effort to reduce virus exposure. We also got a mechanical CPR device to minimize the number of people who would be potentially exposed. We practised with different communication methods, such as baby monitors and headsets so that we could keep doors closed and communicate effectively during resuscitation. We were able to use simulation to practise in our Emergency Departments with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. It was a wonderful team effort. The best feedback we received was how the participants felt their anxiety levels decrease after practising.

COVID-19 has affected me unlike anything I have experienced in my career. In addition to worrying about my patients’ safety and well-being, I’ve had to be concerned about my personal safety and that of my family. I have had to take extra measures to ensure that my job does not put them in harm’s way. I have also had to swap all my shifts to evenings or weekends so that I could homeschool my daughters during the day. I miss most bedtimes now, which makes me sad. However, I do consider myself fortunate to still be able to work and to have the opportunity to serve my community during this crisis.  

The thing I love the most about my job is using simulation to help us prepare our trainees and our staff for whatever might come through the doors of the Emergency Department. In the ED, we need to be ready for everything and anything and this is both challenging and exciting. Every simulation session involves many hours of careful planning. It requires the ability to predict everything that could potentially go wrong, then using state-of-the-art equipment to create realistic experiences that immerse participants and allow them to learn in a safe environment. It is so rewarding to see participants really engaged in the scenarios we create, and to know that we are preparing them to deliver high-quality, safe care to patients when it matters the most.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is how the team really came together in the face of this crisis. Everything about our physical work environment in the Emergency Department at Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals has changed. I came back from March Break into a completely different setting. Badges to gain access to the ED. Screeners at every entrance. Plexiglass at the nursing counter. Voices muffled behind face masks. Faces barely recognizable behind multiple layers of PPE. Yet, one thing that has not changed: the unbreakable spirit, courage and resilience of all members of the team. We may have our fears as individuals, but together as a team we know that we’ve got this.

I’m inspired by all the essential workers who put their personal safety at risk and show up to work every day. Whether it is the truck drivers that move essential goods, the grocery store workers who keep food on our tables, or healthcare workers that care for those of us who get sick. This pandemic has really highlighted all the heroes society depends on every day.

One of my personal heroes is Helen, one of our housekeepers at Toronto General. She was six months away from retirement at the start of COVID-19 and she not only shows up to work every day, but does it with a smile and efficiency that is truly inspirational. You can tell she loves her job and making a difference at UHN.

I sometimes worry about how society has changed. Because of COVID-19, people are now afraid of each other. My kids – age two and four – are scared of stepping out of the house. My two-year-old looks worried when she sees someone as she can’t read their face with the mask on. Social interactions are mostly virtual. They don’t seem real. It is also harder for a healthcare provider to connect with their patients and vice versa when all they see is the glare of your face shield instead of a friendly and reassuring smile.

I’ve found joy recently from extensive spring and summer cleaning and donating so much. Out with the old, in with the new. COVID-19 has taught me to live in the moment and let go of the past, especially if it’s burdensome or sad. Also, always have a healthy supply of toilet paper at home.

My favourite read is the Harry Potter series. I can’t live without magic and especially hope. I hope I always have this little kid inside of me that believes friends can last forever, food can magically appear on plates and broken bones can mend overnight. Oh, and let’s not forget dragons that fly.

My ideal day off is with my family, away from the house and chores. A beach sounds really nice right about now.

Will you Give a Shift?
Over the past year, healthcare workers have risen to the challenge facing COVID-19. Now it’s your turn. Join this first-of-its-kind fundraising event!

Support our healthcare heroes and register now for UHN’s Give a Shift.

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