Q&A with Inez McKenzie
Toronto, April 17, 2015
By Heather Brown
Inez McKenzie, volunteer at St. Michael’s Hospital. (Photo by Katie Cooper)
Inez McKenzie worked as a registered nurse on the Labour and Delivery Unit for 28 years before returning as a volunteer 16 years ago. She has led more than 700 pre-natal tours for expectant mothers and their partners.
Q. Tell us about your role.
A. My main responsibility is to lead the pre-natal tour on 15 Cardinal Carter on Tuesday afternoons. The tour runs from 1 to 2 p.m. each week and provides new mothers and their partners with the opportunity to learn more about what to expect when they come to deliver their baby. They see various spots on the Labour and Delivery Unit such as the triage room, a labour room, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a post-partum patient room.
Q. Do you have any memorable moments from the tour?
A. Recently I had a couple who showed up at the end of one of my tours because they were delayed in getting to the hospital. I explained that the tour had ended but that there were other tours they could participate in later in the week. The expectant mom looked at me and said “is there any way you could show us around? Our baby is due tomorrow and we’ve never been through anything like this before.” I of course couldn’t refuse so I gave them their own private tour so they felt prepared for the next day.
Q. What is the most rewarding thing about volunteering at St. Michael’s?
A. The first is sharing in the family’s excitement as they enter this last milestone of their pregnancy. Coming for a pre-natal tour means their big day is almost here. Being there to answer their questions is special to me. I also really like working with patients who are new to Canada and have little to no experience with what it’s like to give birth in a hospital here. For instance, many new immigrants are surprised to hear they don’t have to pay for their medical care or food when they are in the hospital.
Q. What are some of the common questions you are asked during the tour?
A. There are a few:
- When should I come to the hospital?
- How long will I stay?
- Can my children and husband stay with me?
- What are the visiting hours and how many visitors can I have in my room?
- Do I need a car seat to take my baby home? What if I don’t have a car, do I still need one?
Q. What is the strangest question anyone has asked on the tour?
A. The one question that stands out in my mind was “is there an emergency elevator that I can take right to the 15th floor so that I don’t have to wait for the elevator when I’m in labour?”
About St. Michael's Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.