Commissionaire at Truro hospital has a message for those entering the facility: “be kind, be nice”

This article by Jessica Long first appeared on the Nova Scotia Health website

Since the start of the pandemic, Nova Scotia Health has prioritized the health, safety, and wellness of our patients, clients, and teams. Nova Scotia Health’s site screeners and commissionaires play a critical role in keeping our patients and teams safe by helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in our facilities.

Dawn Marie Galgay has worked at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro as a commissionaire since July 2021. She came to this role after more than 20 years with Jazz Airlines. When the airline industry was severely impacted by the pandemic, Galgay said she saw it as an opportunity – like the universe was telling her to do something different. “Now, I just love this job. I wish I had found it years ago!” she said.  

Galgay’s daily work as a commissionaire involves greeting everyone who enters the hospital, whether they are a patient, a support person, or a courier, and facilitating their next steps into the hospital. She gives everyone a new mask, asks the standard COVID-19 screening questions and requests their proof of vaccination.

Her role as a commissionaire at the hospital is an important one – screening all who enter the building helps protect the patients and health care workers inside. Amid the ongoing pandemic, she is particularly concerned with the vulnerable patients who she holds some responsibility to keep safe.

“Everyone comes into the hospital for a different reason, from a mother about to give birth and have the happiest day of her life, to a husband having the worst day of his life preparing to say goodbye to his dying wife after being married for 60 years,” said Galgay. “For the safety of all, everyone needs to follow the rules.”

Galgay shared that the most challenging part of her role is dealing with individuals who disagree or become upset about the policies and processes around entering the hospital. She said that some people arrive without proper vaccination documentation or want to enter the hospital despite being unvaccinated, while others feel as though their rights are being infringed.

“Dawn Marie as well as the many site screeners who support our hospitals have provided and continue to provide excellent service in keeping our communities safe for everyone,” said Raj Makkar, director of the COVID response team in the Northern Zone.

“On an average day, Dawn Marie will screen and assist more than a thousand individuals all with the utmost professionalism, courtesy and compassion.” Makkar explained, “Our amazing site screeners across Nova Scotia have played and continue to play a vital role throughout this pandemic. We are grateful and thankful to have the site screeners and commissionaires as part of the Nova Scotia Health team.”

Despite the challenges she faces at work, Galgay said she approaches every day with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She says a smile is universal as a simple message to those coming into the hospital, “just be kind, be nice. We all have a part to play, and we are all in this together.”

Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Galgay spends most of her spare time with her teenage daughters Stephanie (16) and Jane (17). They enjoy going for drives in their Mustang convertible while listening to 80s music.