Sep 27, 2020 News
By Enid Joaquin
Our Frontline Worker of the week, Petal Williams-McKoy, had always dreamed of becoming a nurse, but never in her wildest dreams, did she envision herself working through a pandemic and certainly not on the frontline putting her life at risk. On a daily basis, she strives to keep others safe from COVID-19, a disease that has for months been wreaking unprecedented havoc across the globe.
“At the onset of the pandemic, a sense of uncertainty, even as a health professional, was felt.
However, with research, training, and access to information through the Ministry of Public Health, calmness and the determination to better serve my community, quickly replaced any
Uncertainties,” said Nurse McKoy during a recent interview.
She posited that while the community was concerned about ‘what seemed like the unknown’, some persons were skeptical to visit the hospital.
But others, she pointed out, used their better judgment and turned up at the hospital when faced with suspicious symptoms.
Those patients would be usually be informed of the COVID-19 precautionary measures such as hand-washing, social distancing and the wearing of masks. She noted, however, that
while some willingly cooperated, others were reluctant to follow these necessary procedures.
Nurse Williams-McKoy has come a long way from the days when she worked as a sales girl, shortly after leaving school.
Those jobs, however, were mere stepping stones, along her path to becoming a health care worker.
In a candid interview, Nurse Williams-McKoy shared that her CXC results could not have landed her, her dream job, so she worked at three Linden stores to acquire the needed funds to rewrite most of her subjects through the Critchlow Labour College. Her perseverance paid off, and with the requisite subjects under her belt, she later applied for a position as a nursing assistant at the Linden Hospital Complex.
“I was accepted to do the nursing assistant programme in the year 2008, and I subsequently obtained a certificate in nursing. Then in the year 2013, I did the registered nursing programme where I obtained my diploma,” she shared.
She confessed that she was a part of the batch of nurses when it was said that the entire country failed the nursing exam, and as a consequence, were mandated to rewrite same.
Nurse Williams-McKoy however pointed out, that she was not disappointed, as it provided the opportunity for her to garner more knowledge and be better prepared, unlike the first sitting of the exam.
Her travails paid off, and in time, this resilient young woman was living her childhood dream.
“I’m presently a registered nurse, attached to the Linden Hospital Complex, where I’m working on the frontline, screening persons for signs and symptoms of COVID-19,” said Nurse Williams-McKoy.
She describes her career journey as most exciting, just as she had always visualized, minus a raging pandemic and its related challenges.
Her most memorable times, she explained, was during her attachment to the Diabetic Foot Centre, where she did training in diabetic foot care and hypertension.
Our Frontline worker said that she was amazed, after applying the requisite treatments and dressings, and witnessing the healing process of persons’ feet, on a first hand basis.
“For me, patience and consideration remains paramount always…with the understanding that we all have our own cultural diversities and thus different perspectives. At the end of the day, my goal is to provide compassionate care, and to understand that persons are less fearful and more cooperative when
they know what to expect, in any given situation.”
Nurse McKoy’s day, begins at 4am, when she gets up to cook, and after this, she prepares for work by 7am.
Apart from work, she is integrally involved in her church, where she functions as a dance instructor and is a member of the women’s fellowship.
She is the loving wife of Orville McKoy.
Family is everything to Nurse Williams-McKoy, who has designated Sunday as ‘family day’.
That is the day when the entire family gets together at the family home in Christianburg.
There they cook, eat, play games and reminisce on all the good times, they’ve shared over the years. Sometimes, too, their time together even turns into a debate focused on current and/or social issues.
Williams-McKoy, the second of eight children for her parents, Frederick Williams and Marilyn Gray, is proud of her Indigenous and African roots.
“I’m of mixed race; my father (now deceased) was Afro Guyanese while my mom is Amerindian.
I must say being of mixed ethnicity, allowed me to enjoy both the African and Amerindian cultures.
Visiting my grandparents’ homes on both sides, helped me to better understand and be respectful of other ethnicities and cultures,” said Nurse Williams-McKoy. In fact, she recalled that “I remember as a child seeing my Amerindian grandmother (Juliet Gray) making cassava bread and pepperpot.”
She added, “All the children relished this traditional cuisine, and the same held true when visits were paid to the grandparents on the African side, where cook-up rice and other delicacies were dished up!”
Despite embracing both cultures, and regularly dressing in African attire, Nurse McKoy, is however yet to don traditional Amerindian gear. She plans to do so quite soon, and with this being Indigenous Heritage Month, I’m already envisioning her with beaded skirt and bra and feathered head-dress…who knows, I might be joining her!
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