Know Your Heroes: Lisa Marie Vermunt

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: Lisa Marie Vermunt
Title: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Palliative Care
Number of years working in health care: 7 1/2
Hometown: Mississauga, and moved to Toronto about 6 years ago

I decided to get into health care because I knew I wanted to be there for people in need. I feel fortunate to have found my place in nursing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My role here at UHN is to support patients and their families living with serious illnesses. I am part of a palliative care consultation service for inpatients at Toronto General Hospital. As a clinical nurse specialist, my role is to provide a palliative nursing lens to the care we provide, and support nursing practice so that every nurse can feel confident in providing palliative care to their patients. I collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to support patients and their families in navigating the healthcare system and ensuring they have the right community resources when they leave hospital.

COVID-19 has affected me by forcing me to find balance during a time of uncertainty and unsteadiness. The pandemic has reminded me how much I value my relationships with friends and family, and the creativity required to stay connected. It is heart-wrenching to see people separated from those they love during critical times in their health and in moments where they need their loved ones the most.

The thing I love the most about my job is
meeting patients and learning about their lived experiences. I like to ask my patients to tell me something about themselves that isn’t related to their heath. The question usually uncovers some really cool stories and helps me get to know my patients better. It also serves as a reminder that there’s more to a person than their illness.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is the resilience of staff to continue doing their best to support patient care at UHN. A year and a half into the pandemic, I still hear laughter and feel positive energy, despite the adversities and challenges experienced.

I’m inspired by
nature and how much of it surrounds us, even in Toronto. A walk along the waterfront or through a park feels like a great escape from the daily hustle.

My personal heroes are my parents because of their thoughtful, generous and warm-hearted spirits. They make the best of every situation, even when it seems impossible.

I sometimes worry about what the future of health care and our day-to-day lives will look like. I miss the simplicity of family gatherings or meeting patients without a mask and face shield.

I’ve found joy recently from gardening and growing vegetables and herbs in my backyard. I live in a condo with a decently sized balcony space, so I decided to try my hand at growing herbs, tomatoes, small onions and lettuce. Although the yield has been small, it’s a simple pleasure to watch your food grow and creatively use it in recipes!

My favourite book is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah because Trevor shares his humbling journey from apartheid South Africa to success as a comedian/show host. He narrates in a comical and unapologetic way that pulls the reader into his world. I often found the stories difficult to digest, but even though they highlight unimaginable struggles, Trevor Noah has a way of finding truth and promise in even the darkest of times. I have to thank the book club I’m a part of for encouraging me to carve out time for an honest read! 

My ideal day off is waking up to a large pot of coffee and a stack of pancakes (syrup on the side, please). I would spend the rest of the day outside, whether it be hiking, biking, swimming or just taking a really long walk. At some point there would be a rest stop at an ice cream shop!

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