Caregiver Series: Analyn Perez
Analyn Perez navigates the tight, overcrowded hallways of the Oncology Department at BC Children’s Hospital with ease. She’s been here countless times over the past 17 years.
Perez, a procedure nurse, has one of the most challenging jobs in the department. Any child in BC or the Yukon who is diagnosed with a pediatric cancer or complex blood disorder is treated in this section of the hospital. Perez works with a team of caregivers to guide patients and their parents through what will, undoubtedly, be some of the most terrifying moments of their lives.
“[For a parent] hearing that their child might have a cancer diagnosis, it’s a scary, scary thing,” said Perez. “It’s a privilege to be someone dedicated to that role. When new families come in, you can be with them, listen to them, and try to give them that hope. You can try to help them make that experience, as scary and awful as it is, as good as it can be.”
The procedure room, where Perez spends much of her time, is where diagnostic tests and treatments happen. It’s where doctors do bone marrow biopsies and lumbar punctures to analyze and treat various malignancies. Approximately 130–140 children are diagnosed with a pediatric cancer every year; the majority are either dealing with leukemia or brain tumours. The average stay for a child is ten days. Unfortunately, some have to live in the hospital for much longer.
The procedure room is similar to an operating room, but is adorned with shells, turtles and fish, creating a calming underwater adventure scene that helps distract the young patients from the unnerving reality they have suddenly been thrust into.
Perez knows just how important those underwater animals are. They are part of the reason she took on a new, full-time role with the hospital’s redevelopment project. As the clinical project lead for the Oncology Department, Perez now spends her days with architects and technology and equipment planners to figure out how the space will look and function when it opens in the new Teck Acute Care Centre in 2017.
Last year, the focus was on the design of the new hospital as a whole. Now, the team is diving into the details, making sure everything from the light switches to the door handles and medical equipment will be in the right places on her floor. Perez says standardization across all departments will be one of the keys to success.
“That consistency not only helps with providing good care, but also patient safety,” Perez said. “It makes sure mistakes don’t happen because you pressed the wrong button.”
From individual rooms to shared spaces, every inch of the new hospital is being planned out to provide the best possible care for patients and their families. Sadly, the turtles cannot be transferred to the new Oncology procedure room, but Perez says she and other clinical leads are working with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation to find donors to create more murals and other patient enhancements. The program is also looking into the possibility of building virtual reality, which would reduce the amount of anesthesia needed to calm patients.
Perez will go back to her old role once the new hospital opens its doors. She says that while it’s been an honour to help build the new hospital, she looks forward to returning to her old job. She says building relationships with patients and their families during such a vulnerable, critical time in their lives is extremely rewarding.
“I’ve just seen so many examples of the resiliency of kids, of families, through just such horrible circumstances,” Perez said. “To witness how strong they are when you first meet them, when they think their world, naturally, has just fallen apart and they don’t think that they’ll ever survive — it is such a privilege in many ways to be a part of that.”
Learn more about specific floors of the new hospital and read about some of the special features they will have for our patients and their families:
For more information and construction updates, visit www.newcw.ca.