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Essential Worker spotlight: This nursing couple is balancing work while caring for their kids at home

Nurses Jackie and Mike Mattson work opposite shifts in order to care for patients at the hospital and their two young girls at home
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Married couple Jackie and Mike Mattson are both nurses currently working at Health Sciences North. (Supplied)

Sudbury.com's Essential Worker of the Day is a daily feature that applauds our local health care and other essential workers who continue to serve our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We honour an essential worker every day at noon. But that's not all, every other Wednesday, we will feature an essential worker as part of our Community Leaders Program. 

Today, we are sharing the story of a married couple who are both nurses currently working at Health Sciences North.

Jackie and Mike Mattson have been married for 10 years. The couple first met in nursing school — a career they chose because of their desire to help people.

Mike works in the cardiac catheterization lab and Jackie works in the ER.

"I love my interactions with my patients," Jackie told Sudbury.com. "The smallest thing can make a big difference."

But in light of COVID-19, Jackie says policies and processes change almost daily.

"An average day in emerg now is spent wearing a mask and safety glasses during our entire shift," Jackie said. "We don’t want take any risks with patients coming in being carriers despite the reasons for their visits."

"In both units we spend a lot of time cleaning, disinfecting and using extra precautions with any patients with the most minimal symptoms."

"It can really slow processes down but is essential."

Aside from being frontline health care workers, the couple is balancing work and caring for their two daughters, ages six and nine, who have been at home since schools and daycares closed on March 14

"It is hard but we managed to flip our shifts to work opposite each other every day so one of us is always home with the kids," Jackie told Sudbury.com "We try to keep some sense of normalcy and push family time when we can but it’s not always easy."

"They are spoiled with love and attention. We miss them as much as they miss us. Thankfully, our kids are pretty happy and best friends to each other."

Jackie admits there was a lot of anxiety and fear when COVID-19 first started but with proper training and personal protection equipment (PPE), morale at the hospital improved. 

Prior to the three confirmed cases that were reported on June 18 and June 22, it had been more than a month since anyone in Greater Sudbury tested positive for COVID-19 — a reminder that our community is not clear of the virus yet.

Moving forward, Jackie hopes residents stay diligent and continue to practice physical distancing.

"It really helped morale going to work, knowing that most of Sudbury was physical distancing when we needed it."

"Sudbury did a good job and it shows in our numbers."

Jackie and Mike were nominated by their friend Stephanie Worton for Sudbury,com's Essential Worker of the Day.

"What they do day-to-day when they aren't working crazy shifts, they are teaching, creating obstacle courses and as frontline workers they are air kissing their girls for their safety," Worton said. 

"They are a very humble couple who deserve to be recognized for their contributions to our health care system."

"They are the definition of heroes and super parents."

Do you know an essential worker who deserves to be recognized? Say thanks to someone you know who is a front-line health care worker, cashier or truck driver by sending in a photo, their name, their job title and your words of thanks to holiver@sudbury.com. Please only send photos and information with permission.