Know Your Heroes: Meghan Marcil

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: Meghan Marcil
Title: Physiotherapist, Toronto Rehab
Number of years working in health care: 16
Hometown: I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec.

I decided to get into health care because I’ve always been interested in the health sciences and working directly with people. I ultimately landed on working in the rehab sector because I enjoy being able to see people through the part of their recovery that involves reintegrating into their everyday lives. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of returning to activities and roles that bring joy to my patients and their families.

My role here at UHN is to work with patients admitted to the Specialized Dementia Unit (SDU) and the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Day Hospital programs at Toronto Rehab. Working as a physiotherapist on the SDU requires strong collaboration in order to meet the needs of our patients, who struggle with responsive behaviours – as a result of advanced dementia. In my role in the ABI Day Hospital, I work with a wonderful group of colleagues to provide care to patients with brain injury, as they integrate back into home, work and school life.

COVID-19 has affected me, like many others, because of the constant worry about family, near and far, who we cannot see or help as much as we would like. Since I’ve been at Toronto Rehab for close to 15 years, I was also used to a certain routine. It has been a real challenge to pivot towards providing care in these new times, including learning the ins and outs of virtual care and the changes to in-person care. Like many parents with young children, I was used to the usual busy routine of activities and school drop offs/pick ups. Thankfully, my family has been very supportive and always welcomes me home with big hugs and smiles, even as they deal with their own changing work and school models.

The thing I love the most about my job is getting to know my patients and their families. I often work with people for many weeks at a time, through a trying time in their lives. It’s a real privilege to be with them on their journey and to learn more about their stories.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work was the first day the COVID-19 vaccine was offered to patients on the Specialized Dementia Unit. The team came together quickly to vaccinate all the patients in a safe and coordinated fashion. It was pretty emotional for the rest of us who had been terribly worried about this incredibly vulnerable patient group for the many months leading up to that day.

I’m inspired by
my colleagues at UHN and across the healthcare system. Every day I see hundreds of people entering the buildings along University Avenue, there to serve the patients who need them. I know that they each have their own struggles at home due to the pandemic, but still manage to come into work to be there for others.

My personal heroes right now are all of the essential workers who, like healthcare workers, are keeping everything going during the pandemic, but have not been celebrated or protected as much as they deserve.

I’m sometimes worried about the toll the pandemic is taking on our whole community and have seen the impact on my own family and friends. It’s been a long year away from others, and I know that we are all more than ready to reconnect with everyone as soon as it’s safe to do so. Now that vaccines are reaching the wider population, I have hope that there will be better days ahead spent with friends and family.

I’ve found joy recently from
gardening. I can’t say that I have the greenest thumb, but I do really enjoy being out in the sun getting things ready, and seeing perennial plants push their way out of the ground. I’m always amazed by how they know exactly what they’re meant to do year after year.

My favourite books are the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante, including the first book in the series, My Brilliant Friend. I really enjoyed these books because they tell a complicated story of two women and their lifelong friendship and struggles. I would recommend them because they are beautifully written, focus on women’s stories, cover a lot of social history, and emphasize how different opportunities shaped the lives of the main characters and women of that time. 

My ideal day off is a bit of a sleep in, a hot cup of coffee with the morning paper, going for a long bike ride with my husband and children, stopping for a snack or picnic along the way, and coming home to a great dinner and family movie night. 

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