'Make out' — and other things Islanders want to do when COVID-19 is over

Staff and visitors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown were asked to fill in the blank. "When COVID-19 is over, I am going to …" Some of the answers are both heartwarming and hilarious.

Message board at Queen Elizabeth Hospital brings joy to patients and staff

Lorraine Dougan, a registered nurse, shows one of the T-Shirts designed for the Year of the Nurse. (Submitted by Lorraine Dougan)

Visit my parents. Get my hair done. Shop at Winners. Go for long drives with friends.

Oh, and "make out with as many people as possible."

Those are just some messages bringing joy and laughter to staff and patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital these days.

They are written on poster boards, placed at the entrances of the hospital, that begin with "When COVID-19 is over, I am going to …"

Not many people pass by without writing something, said Lorraine Dougan, a registered nurse who came up with the idea.

A collage of some of the messages on the poster boards at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. (Pat Martel)

"Everybody was kind of missing out on things and starting to feel a little stressed and I thought what would be really nice is to be able to look back, see that we got through this and what we were looking forward to," she said.

"People needed a venue to say what they were feeling. Sometimes when you put down that feeling it gives it life and helps you deal with what you're going through."

I love humour to get through tough times and make things less stressful.— Lorraine Dougan

Dougan is one of a group of people at the hospital given the task of lifting the spirits of patients and staff during COVID-19 with fun initiatives like the message wall.

They have had a staff bingo contest and created a daily newsletter. They canvassed stores who donated books and magazines. The created 2020 Year of the Nurse T-shirts to sell.

Through the QEH Foundation, they were able to equip all the units with tablets so patients could connect online with loved ones while visitor restrictions were in place.

Nurses Week begins Monday

More events and treats are planned for Nurses Week beginning Monday, Dougan said.

But every day when she goes to work she looks forward to checking out the new messages on the COVID-19 board. She said many of the messages are about visiting loved ones. 

She has written her own message, as well. She wants to visit her 94-year-old mother, who is living in a community-care facility, and give her a "great big hug."

"I can relate to people missing people," she said. "I relate to the humour. I love humour to get through tough times and make things less stressful."

She and staff got the biggest laugh out of the message that said "make out with as many people as possible."

Underneath, someone else wrote "same … call me" with a heart beside it.

"That warmed so many hearts," Dougan said. "It's just funny quotes that will warm your heart and give you the laugh of the day that you need."

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Shane Ross is a former newspaper and TV journalist in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. He joined CBC P.E.I.'s web team in 2016.