One manages an office, another drives a truck and a third volunteers for community radio. Collectively, they’re just some of Haliburton County’s heroes in the war against COVID-19.

The Highlander asked local health care providers to nominate one from their ranks and the majority recommended Kim Robinson, the executive director and office manager of the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team/Haliburton Family Medical Centre.

While not on the frontlines, Dr. Nell Thomas said without Robinson “nothing would be where it is today. She keeps the clinic running, created the COVID-19 assessment centre, makes sure people get paid and coordinates the sick time and meetings. In most of our cases, if each one of us stepped away, things would carry on but if Kim stepped away, I can’t imagine what would happen.”

Robinson said she’s honoured but it’s a team effort. “Without them, none of the work that we have done around the COVID-19 pandemic would be possible.”

She said they face daily changes with ease, pick up work where they see the need and support one another and herself.

“I truly didn’t think twice about what this pandemic would mean for me. My concern was the team, physicians, patients, etc. I couldn’t have managed to do what I have done without the support of our entire healthcare community and community at large.”

Robinson said the pandemic “has consumed my time, but in a way that has actually been a blessing, so to speak. It has shown me exactly what this team can do. It has taught me to not be complacent and that we should practice such care with each other and our patients every day. I am fortunate to be able to come to work each day … I am not fearful of contracting COVID-19. I feel protected and educated thanks to our physicians.”

The trucker

Rick English lives in Carnarvon but spends the bulk of his work weeks on the road as a transport truck driver. He’s been driving for 48 years, and at 68, says he should retire but admits, “I enjoy doing it. I love the highway.”

This week, his route took him to Sault Ste. Marie, then into Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and back to Toronto and home.

He said his work life has not changed all that much during COVID-19, other than he cannot break up the routine by going into a restaurant for a sit-down meal. However, he has a refrigerator and microwave in the truck and says his wife always fills the fridge with leftovers. He can still get takeout and the washrooms are open and clean.

As for border crossings, he said he can’t bring his wife since only co-drivers are allowed as essential workers. Other than that, the crossings are probably faster since there are fewer cars on the roads.

Asked how he feels about truckers being treated as heroes, English said, “Everyone is waving at us when we go by, and wanting us to blow the horn. We get more respect now than we did before. But, how will they treat us after this is over? We’ll see if the tradition carries on.”

The radio guy

Mike Jaycock has been a voice of information and inspiration throughout the pandemic on Canoe FM. He has shows Mondays from 7-9 a.m. and Fridays from 3-6 p.m. as well as doing the mayor’s report Tuesdays and Thursdays. He’s conducting other COVID-19-related interviews as well.

“I’m fortunate to have a mini-studio at home with microphone, phone connection technology, mixer and computer software that allows me to record and edit phone interviews as well as record commercials and station promos,” Jaycock said. “I’m able to mix in music, if needed, and produce a finished product to send into the station via Dropbox. Between preparation for the shows I do and the interviews, I probably put in eight to 10 hours a week, from home. As a result, it sounds like I’m in station a lot more than I am.”

Jaycock said since he’s a senior with a history of asthma and some breathing problems, he’s extremely cautious and concerned around trips away from home. He goes to the station and comes home.

“The station has been very proactive in terms of setting out the protocol and providing materials (disposable microphone socks, wipes, soaps) to ensure we stay safe. It’s important for us to be at the radio station because, as a community radio station, it falls to us to provide as much current information as we can while at the same time providing friendly, neighbourly voices for members of our community. It’s in times like these that community radio excels. So, while the family is a little concerned, I am glad to do what I do, thanks to the radio station’s concern for its volunteers. I feel pretty darned safe.”

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