Know the Risk and Stay Safe: Extreme Heat

June 27, 2018 • Written by

Extreme heat can have many implications for health care professionals. Knowing who is at the greatest risk of experiencing adverse health effects related to extreme heat is of great importance in the acute care and community settings. Additionally, from a systems perspective, health care facilities need to prepare for extreme heat events to ensure the safety of their patient population (Health Canada, 2011).

The graph below highlights the current and projected number of days exceeding 30 degrees Celsius for Canadian cities. You can see an increasing trajectory of the number of hot days for each Canadian city identified in the graph. The number of days with a maximum temperature of 30°C is projected to double by 2021-2040 and more than triple by 2081-2100, likely resulting in further heat-related mortality. Overall, Canada is projected to become much warmer, and urban areas tend to experience higher temperatures due to the urban heat island effect.

Please note: Sustained night-time temperatures do not allow the body to get some relief at night from the heat (Berry, Clarke, Fleury, & Parker, 2014).

Key risk factors associated with heat-related illnesses and death in extreme heat:

• Older adults (>75 years)
• Individuals with chronic disease – cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, and renal disease as well as mental and behavioral disorders related to substance use/abuse, mental illness, and metabolic conditions.
• Living conditions – confined to bed, social situation, reduced income, malnutrition, and reduced access to cooling options.
• Medication use – antiadrenergics and beta blockers, anticholinergics, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-parkinson’s agents, antipsychotics, sympathomimetics, and diuretics.

Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke:

Treatment priorities include:

Cool and Hydrate
• Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires hospitalization.
• Cool the body early and monitor vital signs. This intervention can prevent later stage damage and death.
– Exertional heat stroke – cool quickly with ice-water baths
– Classic heat stroke (more often occurs in people with other chronic conditions) – cool gradually, as to not exacerbate the conditions
• Treat dehydration
• Check for over-hydration, hyponatremia, especially in athletes; assess patient’s recent physical activity
(Health Canada, 2011)

To prepare for and cope with extreme heat, your health facility can take action to:
• Cool buildings and outdoor spaces
• Educate and protect staff
• Consider heat when caring for residents/patients during extreme heat

Develop a heat emergency plan:
• Administrative procedure to meet emergency/serge staff capacity needs
• Plan staff training on heat health risk information
• Steps to follow to keep older adults and the chronically ill cool and comfortable
• Emergency cooling options (air conditioned rooms, fans, ice-water baths/showers)
• Identify need for back-up generators, during possible power brown outs/black outs
• Plan to manage employee heat exhaustion (eg. air conditioning in the staff room, light weight breathable uniforms)
(Health Canada, n.d)

Post written by Jennifer Morin – Nursing Instructor
Jennifer has been certified in the Health Care Workers Guide to Extreme Heat Events.


Berry, P., Clarke, K., Fleury, M.D., & Parker, S. (2014). Human health. In F.J. Warren & D.S. Lemmen (Eds.), Canada in a changing climate: Sector perspectives on impacts and adaptation (pp. 191-232). Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada.

Health Canada. (n.d). Health care facilities preparation for extreme heat: Recommendations for retirement and health care facilities. Retrieved from

Health Canada. (2011). Extreme heat events guidelines: Technical guide for health care workers. Retrieved from

Mac Health. (2017). Extreme heat events. Retrieved from

The New Masters of the Nursing Department

June 14, 2018 • Written by

On the morning of June 6, 2018, 13 members of the Nursing Department at Red River College celebrated their convocation from the Masters of Education program at the University of Manitoba. This dedicated group of instructors was a part of the RRC M.Ed. cohort who studied together to achieve this milestone. The focus of study for these instructors was in Adult and Post-Secondary Education. We are proud to bring our expanded knowledge base to the instruction of our students!

Pictured are the 13 newly minted “masters”
(front row) Richel Roque, Kim Pinel, Monica Burfoot, and Winona Burgess
(back row) Kate Tate, Monica Nash, Bonnie Peers, Sandra Holben, Bernadette Mandrick, Karen DiPietro, Karen Parker, Tyler Steiner, and Navdeep Sekhon

The Nursing Department also had seven more instructors who graduated this past year with their Masters of Nursing. Congratulations to Rebecca Cameron, Joanne Loughery, Deb Miller, Tammy Moran, Jennifer Morin, Tara Roberts, and Corrina Zacharkiw!

Post and photo by Bernadette Mandrick – Nursing Instructor

Know the Risk And Stay Safe: The Air Quality Health Index

June 7, 2018 • Written by

With an increase in forest fires within the province of Manitoba, it is time to refresh your memory regarding the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and how air quality can impact health.

It is important to assess your risk in terms of the Air Quality Health Index. Some populations are at an increased risk of experiencing the health effects related to air quality. These populations include individuals with cardiovascular conditions (angina, previous heart attack, stroke, heart rhythm problems), respiratory illnesses (asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer), and individuals with diabetes, as this population will often have cardiovascular disease. Young children and seniors, those active outdoors, and pregnant women are also at higher risk.

People who are otherwise healthy may have the following symptoms:
• irritated eyes
• increased mucus production in the nose or throat
• coughing
• difficulty breathing, especially during exercise

Some people may be unaware that they have lung or heart disease. Consult your doctor if you have any chest pain or tightness, sweating, difficulty breathing without exertion, consistent cough or shortness of breath, fluttering in the chest, or feel light headed.

Do you know how to use the AQHI?

Step 1.

When planning outdoor activities, use the “maximum forecast AQHIs” and corresponding health messages as a guide. These values estimate the maximum that the AQHI will reach during each of the forecast periods. Check out our local AQHI here.
Check the current hourly AQHI as you go about your daily activities (Current AQHI box).

Step 2.

Listen to your body and “calibrate” how you are feeling with the index value – air quality affects you differently depending on your risk. You can determine your level of risk to air pollution by consulting your physician or the “determine if you are at risk” page.

Step 3.

Follow the health advice given in the corresponding health messages.

Step 4.

Read these “Did you know…?” tips and take action to improve the air you breathe.

How can you assess your risk?
Use your own experience and symptoms as a guide.

How do you usually feel when there is an increase in air pollution?
If you cannot answer this question, visit this website regularly and take note of how you feel on days with different levels of air pollution.

1. Take into account your age, your health status, and your level of outdoor activity. If you are in the “At Risk” group, your sensitivity to air pollution is likely to be greater.

o Young, active children
o Elderly individuals
o People with existing respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which may include chronic bronchitis and emphysema, or people with certain heart arrhythmias (rhythm problems or irregular heartbeat), congestive heart failure, angina, or previous heart attack
o People undertaking strenuous exertion outdoors, for example during sports or strenuous work

2. By considering these factors you can assess whether you are:

o Very sensitive: Severe and frequent symptoms, possibly even after low exposures to pollution
o Moderately sensitive: Between very and mildly sensitive
o Mildly sensitive: Mild and infrequent symptoms, only after high exposures to pollution.

Important! This is ONLY a guide. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms.

Once you are aware of your sensitivity and level of risk, you can adapt your activity based on the health messages associated with the AQHI.

For more information, check out this video from the Government of Canada.

Post written by Jennifer Morin – Nursing Instructor

I am a contract employee of Health Canada and The College of Family Physicians of Canada, as well as an Air Quality Health Index Trainer. I have obtained certification to disseminate information on the AQHI, Radon, Extreme Heat, and Climate Change on behalf of Health Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. I can be contacted for additional content information, posters, pamphlets, and patient resources. I can also do additional teaching seminars if required.

Information adapted from:

Health Canada – Government of Canada. (2016). About the air quality health index. Retrieved from

International Nursing Week 4: Prepping for China

May 31, 2018 • Written by

The Nursing Department is preparing to compete once again in the International Nursing Skills Competition, hosted by the Shanghai University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Last year, students Elyse Griffith and Rachel Rubin won 2nd place overall and 1st place in the international category! To hear more about Elyse and Rachel’s experience, check out Elyse’s blog post.

As we get closer to summer vacation, the Nursing Department is in the process of choosing two new students to represent Red River College. Once chosen, the students will train with instructors Allyson Cooper and Sandy Alguire before heading to Shanghai, China in November to put their simulation skills to the test!

Stay tuned to find out which two students will be heading to China in the Fall!

Post written by Meagen Chorney – Nursing Instructor

International Nursing Week 3: Students Heading to Denmark

May 24, 2018 • Written by

As part of the Nursing Department’s initiatives to develop international relationships and opportunities, we are sending two BN students to Denmark for summer school!

Caitlyn Edwards and Alycia Dettman were selected through an interview process to attend the international summer school, International Health: Welfare Technology and Dementia, hosted by Via University College. The students will spend two weeks in Aarhus, from August 6th – 16th, as they “get a unique chance to collaborate with other professions. The programme includes theory and visits to elder care centres which are at the forefront of using health- and welfare technologies” (Via University College, 2018).

The vision of Red River College is to be recognized globally, as we serve a global population in Winnipeg. Peer reviewed evidence shows travelling assists with cultural competence. Additionally, we (like many countries) have an aging population. We want to educate nurses about how interesting and fulfilling a job working with older adults can be.

For their participation, Caitlyn and Alycia will get an elective credit from RRC, with the expectation that they share their experience in some form of academic writing or presentation. While the college does not fully cover all costs of the trip, about 2/3 will be covered through the Nursing Awards Committee and International Education. Aside from the amazing opportunity to travel to Denmark, this experience is a great opportunity for our students to enhance their skills working with older demographics in a different cultural context.

To learn more about the international summer school, check out their website.

We wish Caitlyn and Alycia the best! Bon voyage!

Check in next week, as we move from Denmark to China for another international student opportunity!

Post written by Meagen Chorney and Alison Fyfe-Carlson – Nursing Instructors

Photo Credit: Via University College, 2018,,

International Nursing Week 2: A Visit to Denmark

May 17, 2018 • Written by

Last November, faculty from Denmark visited us in Winnipeg, touring our city and learning about Red River College. This past February, the Nursing Department was able to reciprocate.

Members of the Nursing faculty had the opportunity to visit Denmark as part of our efforts to develop international relationships. Our faculty met with representatives from Via University College and experienced the wonderful sights Denmark has to offer.

The multi-campus Via University College is similar in size to Red River College and offers a Bachelor of Nursing program under the Faculty of Health Sciences. They also have a joint Master’s program (with Deakin University in Australia) and four research centers in Health Sciences. Their Nursing programs have a number of interesting areas, from dementia research, to an ethical lab focused on empathy, to entrepreneurship. They also have a strong clinical focus and incorporate research opportunities early for students.

Our faculty toured the campuses and tourist spots in Holstebro and Aarhus, learning about the similarities and differences between Denmark and Canada, as well as Nursing education at our two educational institutes. The visit continued discussions about the possibilities of an international partnership, with goals including summer schools, exchanges (both physically and virtually), and other learning opportunities.

Check out the blog next week to hear about how one of those goals is being achieved this summer!

Post written by Meagen Chorney and Alison Fyfe-Carlson – Nursing Instructors

International Nursing Week 1: A Visit from Denmark

May 10, 2018 • Written by

The RRC Nursing department is undertaking a number of international nursing relationships. From Denmark to China, RRC faculty and students are meeting with, collaborating with, and even competing against nurses from around the world. Throughout the month of May, we’ll be highlighting the international activities of our department over the past academic year and the future of RRC Nursing on an international stage. To start with, we have a visit from Denmark, but check back every week this month for new posts!

Last November, the RRC Nursing department welcomed Karen Frederickson, Associate Dean, Head of International Affairs; Lisbeth Sorenson, Head of Nursing Education; and Randi Conti, International Coordinator, from Via University College, a multi-campus post-secondary institute in Denmark. The three Via University College faculty members travelled from Denmark to Canada, meeting with RRC and a college in Ontario, as part of their efforts to form international agreements with Canadian educational institutions.

Karen, Lisbeth, and Randi stayed in Winnipeg for two days, touring the city and RRC with their hosts from our Nursing department. RRC faculty shared the best of Winnipeg with our guests, from the Canadian Human Rights Museum to the Exchange District to Assiniboine Park. Touring around Winnipeg by car, our guests also got to see the major Winnipeg hospitals as well as visit the RRC Main and Notre Dame campuses. At NDC, Karen, Lisbeth, and Randi toured the ETV studio, nursing labs, and sat in on a class for a few minutes. They also visited one clinical site, Norwest Community Health Coop on Keewatin, where the nurses from Canada and Denmark shared their perspectives on primary health care as well as public health practices and research opportunities.

This visit allowed our faculty to discover the similarities and differences of Nursing in Canada and Denmark. From our guests, we discovered we have many similar courses, and both departments are encouraging faculty to further their education and their participation in research. Both RRC and Via University College Nursing departments are also student focused and value student success. We also discovered some differences, such as extended opportunities for students to participate in research at Via University College.

The RRC Nursing Department hopes to continue to foster this international relationship (stay tuned this month to hear more about our progress!) and create opportunities for international collaboration both in Canada and Denmark. The goal of working with an international school fits with the vision of RRC to be recognized for excellence internationally, and any student exchanges created from this relationship also meet with the strategic plan themes of elevating student success and cultivating strategic partnerships. While the Nursing department hopes to expand our international relationships to various educational institutes in other countries, Denmark was the perfect fit as we begin this endeavor. As a widely English-speaking country, minimizing the language barrier helps with planning exchanges and other opportunities. Denmark also shares many similarities with Canada, such as similar social values, similar climate, a strong health and public health system, and a strong social system. We believe we can grow and learn from each other, in both our similarities and differences. International relationships broaden our perspectives and give us new ways of examining the world.

The Nursing department feels very positive about this visit and the opportunities that are being created for the Nursing faculty and students as well as RRC as a whole. We would like to recognize the hard work of Alison Fyfe-Carlson, Cathy Baxter, Pat Gregory, and Dianne Brown in planning and fostering not only this initial visit but the larger international relationship being created. As we move forward, we look forward to more faculty and coordinators as well as students participating in and benefiting from these international opportunities.

Check in next week to hear about faculty from the Nursing Department visiting Denmark!

Post written by Meagen Chorney and Alison Fyfe-Carlson – Nursing Instructors

Career Symposium 2018

April 25, 2018 • Written by

The Career Symposium was held this year on April 16 – 18, 2018 at the RBC Convention Centre. Red River College had a strong presence at the Career Symposium with over two full rows of booths and engaging activities for prospective students to participate in.

Over ten thousand people attend the Career Symposium each year, and with over 185 exhibitor booths and multiple speakers over the three days, the event proved to be very successful. There were crowds of grade 9 – 12 students brought in by the bus loads (literally)! Others who attended include those individuals who were out of school but interested in seeking a career. Parents and teachers were also present at the event.

The Nursing Department hosted a booth, which included multiple posters, an ongoing slideshow presentation, a model of a heart, stethoscope, oximeter, multiple pamphlets, and other sources of information.

Students who approached the Nursing booth and expressed an interest in any of the programs were offered a ballot to enter a draw for a chance to win a prize.

Jennifer Fontaine and Joanna Simmons-Swinden present at the booth on April 16th, 2018

Many students approached the Nursing booth asking questions, seeking information, or interested in some of the display items. Students were highly interested in the Nursing program as well as the Health Care Aide program. It was wonderful to see the future generation taking an interest in a career in the health care field. Many students left the Nursing booth smiling and thankful for all the great information provided.

Asuka Qiao and Noreen Witt present at the booth on April 17th, 2018

A special thank you to all the faculty volunteers who took part in hosting the Nursing booth at this year’s Career Symposium. It was a great success and simply could not have been without you!

Post written by Stacy Kutcher
Photos taken by Jennifer Fontaine and Stacy Kutcher

Applied Research and Innovation Day

April 19, 2018 • Written by

On April 5th, eight Nursing students participated in the college-wide Applied Research and Innovation Day! Building on their award-winning presentations at the Nursing / Community Services Student-Faculty Research and Innovation Day, the students created posters and Powerpoint presentations to promote their research to the larger college community.

Second year students Tessera Ball, Suzanne Guay, and Caitlyn Edwards presented their research and advocacy statement Advocating for Change: The Introduction of Safe Injection Sites in Winnipeg. The original project was a photo essay developed with fellow students Dana Strong, Melissa Nelson, & Selam Isack in Kim Fraser’s Community Health Nursing 1 course. Tessera, Suzanne, and Caitlyn used their interest in the topic and belief in Winnipeg’s need for a safe injection site to significantly build on their original research and adapt their photo essay into a strong advocacy statement for our community.

Third year students Gurpreet Sandhu, Candace Blahey, Shelby Marks, and Kelsey Pasishnik presented their research on Bedside Report. Originally developed as a group project in Lee Jones’ and Krystal Boyce-Gaudreau’s Issues, Politics, Public Policy and Professional Nursing course, Gurpreet, Candace, Shelby, and Kelsey drew on their LPN experience to further explore the benefits and disadvantages of the bedside report policy, as well as the barriers to implementation and the resolutions to those barriers. The group strongly advocated in favor of the policy, while also taking the concerns surrounding it into account.

Third year student Bridget Burns presented her research on Lullaby Music Therapy in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Originally developed as a research paper in Kim Mitchell’s second year Research and Scholarship in Nursing course, Bridget used her interest and passion for the NICU to expand and enhance her paper into a comprehensive presentation advocating for a simple and beneficial intervention on this ward.

Bridget’s synthesis of the literature on lullaby music therapy was chosen as a finalist in the Student Quick-Pitch Competition. She gave an amazing presentation on her research at the Applied Research and Innovation Day luncheon to an audience of RRC faculty, staff, and administration, as well as government, industry, and community partners. Out of over 30 presentations, Bridget’s was awarded fourth overall!

Congratulations to all eight students who participated in Applied Research and Innovation Day! You all did a wonderful job representing the Nursing department and the important research created and disseminated by our students!

Post written by Meagen Chorney – Nursing Instructor
Photos by Pat Gregory – Nursing Instructor, and the RRC Marketing team

Congratulations! Nursing Students Win Step Out of Your Box Awards

April 12, 2018 • Written by

Five nursing students won the Step Out of Your Box Awards at RRC’s Volunteer Appreciation Event! Congratulations to Melissa Zulak, Rebecca McLachlan, Angela Switzer, Shelby Marks, and Chantal Meilleur!

Melissa Zulak, Rebecca McLachlan, Angela Switzer

The Step Out of Your Box program enables students to explore a dimension of diversity different from their own through service-learning at a community organization. As part of the Gender Studies for Health Professionals course, students had the option of choosing to participate in the program (specifically focused on a dimension of gender) rather than writing a final research paper. The program also offers 4 awards (this year 5!) to students for exceptional leave-behind projects and reflections on their experience. Although the program is open to the entire college, all five awards went to nursing students this year!

Melissa Zulak, Neeva Vuong, Rebecca McLachlan, Angela Switzer, Chelsea Francisco, Meagen Chorney

Each student completed 7 volunteer hours with a community organization of their choice, developed a leave-behind project (either independently or as a group) that benefitted the organization, and wrote a reflection on their experience. Our five winners, and all the students who participated in the program, had a positive learning experience, made a meaningful impact on the community they volunteered with, and taught their peers through their in-class reflections.

Congratulations to our winners!

Melissa Zulak

Melissa Zulak: Volunteered with Queer People of Color (QPOC) – Created a comprehensive QPOC resource booklet (with Kirstie Castellano and Kyleene Phillips)

Rebecca McLachlan

Rebecca McLachlan: Volunteered with Willow Place – Organized a drive for pajamas, shampoo, soaps, and feminine hygiene supplies (with Ursula Beer, Kharren Capuno, and Maria Capinpin)

Angela Switzer: Volunteered at Main Street Project – Created the Winnipeg Sisterhood Project to collect feminine hygiene products. The Winnipeg Sisterhood Project is still running! Check out Angela’s Facebook page to contribute!

Angela Switzer

Shelby Marks: Volunteered at Men’s Shed – Created information pamphlets and a welcome flyer (with Candace Blahey and Gurpreet Sandhu)

Chantal Meilleur: Volunteered with the Like That program at Sunshine House – Collected and created supplies for their gardening project (with Tamara Marynowski)

A special thank you to Tracey Fallak, Nursing Curriculum Coordinator and Margaret Rauliuk, Chair of the Association of Registered Nurses of Manitoba for coming out to support and celebrate with the students!

Also thank you to Neeva Vuong and Chelsea Francisco for coming out to the event and for the amazing work on their own Step Out of Your Box projects!

Finally, thank you to all the nursing students who participated in the Step Out of Your Box program this year!

Kirstie Castellano – Queer People of Color (QPOC) – Resource Booklet
Melanie Centeno – Sunshine House – Instructional Materials for the Breakfast Program
Sarah Dela Cruz – Willow Place – Food Drive
Chelsea Francisco – Sunshine House – Promotional Photography
Nicole Geli – Willow Place – Food Drive
Omalara Olayinka – Sunshine House – Winter Coat Drive and Donation List
Kyleene Phillips – Queer People of Color (QPOC) – Resource Booklet
Neeva Vuong – Sunshine House – Paint Night
Ursula Beer – Willow Place – Pajamas and Hygiene Products Drive
Candace Blahey – Men’s Shed – Information Pamphlets and Welcome Flyer
Maria Capinpin – Willow Place – Pajamas and Hygiene Products Drive
Kharren Capuno – Willow Place – Pajamas and Hygiene Products Drive
Tamara Marynowski – Sunshine House – Gardening Supplies
Gurpreet Sandhu – Men’s Shed – Information Pamphlets and Welcome Flyer

Written by Meagen Chorney – Nursing Instructor
Photos by Meagen Chorney – Nursing Instructor