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All in the Family

May 12, 2021

Sisters follow in mother’s footsteps to provide psychiatric care at HSC Winnipeg

L-R: Kelli Janes’ sister Samantha, their mom, and Kelli. *Photo taken prior to current code red restrictions.

In ninth grade when Kelli Janes participated in “Take Your Kid to Work Day” with her mom, she had no idea that she was spending the day at her own future place of work. Just like her mom did for close to 20 years, Janes works today as a psychiatric nurse at Health Sciences Centre.

“Growing up and hearing about her job, what it entailed, and the patients she worked with was fascinating,” says Janes. “I’ve always loved an underdog story. If there are two teams playing against each other I’m cheering for the team that’s never won before. With mental health, it’s a population of people who have had so many barriers and not a lot of help. It was very appealing for me to be a part of the team that tries to provide help for that population.”

Inspired by her mother’s career path, Janes enrolled in Brandon University’s Psychiatric Nursing Program. And she wasn’t the only Janes who studied there as her older sister had also decided to follow in their mother’s footsteps. “At family gatherings I always feel a little bad for my dad and brother,” Janes laughs. “There is always a lot of nursing talk.”

Kelli Janes at her 2016 graduation from Brandon University’s Psychiatric Nursing Program

Having family members in the same field has proved to be invaluable for Janes. With 12-hour shifts and a constant rotation of patients, she appreciates having immediate family who can relate and give advice on specific concerns or questions related to nursing. And amidst the pandemic that need for support has only grown.

Janes works on the Addictions Unit at HSC, assisting individuals who struggle with substance use disorders. With hospital stays that range anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months, their 11-bed unit houses patients in a range of detox stages. COVID-19 has severely impacted the resources that the Addictions Unit is able to provide to their patients. Services such as 28-day programs and counselling have had to cut their capacity in half to accommodate physical distancing. Other healthy coping strategies that would normally be suggested—such as coffee with friends—to keep patients away from problematic behaviours, are not allowed under current health restrictions. In the face of the pandemic, Janes’ role has expanded to include administering COVID-19 vaccines—a sign of the times and adaptability of nurses.

Janes acknowledges the challenges but chooses to concentrate on the rewarding aspects of the job.

“When patients come back after they’ve maintained their sobriety for a while, I could cry when I see them,” says Janes. “It is so nice to know that they’re doing so much better. It is going to have so many benefits for their physical health, their mental health, and their loved ones. Some days it doesn’t even feel like work—it is so special to see those positive changes happen for people.”

To Kelli Janes and all the nurses working tirelessly on the frontlines, we admire and recognize you. This National Nursing Week, please consider supporting nurses at HSC, as well as the patients in their care, by making a gift to the HSC Foundation. Click here to donate today or call 204-515-5612.


By Heather Milne