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‘McGyver’ Nursing

Heroes Remember

‘McGyver’ Nursing

We have a couple of things that we can’t do. Certain blood testing we can’t do. To find out which kind of bacteria you have in your system, we couldn’t do that. That had to be sent away to another hospital. I think it was Baglum we had to send that to. I’m not 100% sure. I’d have to check with my lab technicians, but most part we had everything. If we didn’t have anything, if we didn’t have a specific item then we would make it up. We used to call it ‘McGyver’ nursing. We did not have feeding pumps when we first arrived so we found a way to feed our patients through a different system and it was a lot of ‘McGyver’ nursing. It was the first time we’ve ever done this and try to get supplies into a war zone is a little more difficult than trying to get supplies in a civilian hospital, because everything becomes a priority. Your food, your bullets, all types of ammunition, spare parts for the vehicles, medical equipment. It’s all a priority because you can’t fix the patient. However, the patient can’t go do something unless he has all this stuff so it becomes like cause and effect and everybody did their best they can. So if we did, we ran out of one medication we’d switch to something else. We’d talk to the doctor and say, “Okay, we don’t have that today. We’ve got this and we’ve got that, we’ve got this, what do you want?” It became a lot of, okay, try to figure it out, but no person went without. We were always able to find a different solution, because there is always a different solution in medicine.

Ms. Streppa describes the limitations that her field hospital faced and the ability of staff to adapt to their limited medical supplies.

Joanna Streppa

Ms. Streppa was born in Montreal. She joined the Canadian Forces in 1989 as a non-commissioned member and trained as a Naval Signaller. From 1990 - 1997 she was employed in the Halifax area with the exception of a two year tour at the National Defense Headquarters in Ottawa. After obtaining her Nursing degree from Dalhousie University, Ms. Streppa received her Officer Commission, specializing in Critical Care, and in 2004 was promoted to rank of Lieutenant. In February 2006, she accepted a deployment to Afghanistan/Kandahar and was employed as a Staff Officer within the Canadian Forces Health Services Group Headquarters upon her return.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
February 10, 2008
Person Interviewed:
Joanna Streppa
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Forces Medical Corps
1st Lieutenant
Medical Personnel

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