Big Olympics-Style Party!

After an interesting day of work yesterday – more about that later – and a 5:30 am start we were weary volunteers who would have liked to get home and put our feet up in front of the TV.

But we had been invited by a dear friend who is in charge of the BC Place Medical Team, and a young man we had watched grow up from his early years, to the Medals Ceremony at the stadium where it was Manitoba night. Continue reading “Big Olympics-Style Party!”

Efforts for Greenest Games

Those who know me know that I am a mad recycler/composter -have been for 35 years or so. I remember working as a volunteer when the kids were little for a Pointe Claire, Quebec upstart organization called STOP – the Society To Overcome Pollution. Seems a hundred years ago – it fact it was about 35 years ago and far too long ago for the seemingly little progress we have made to reduce/reuse/and recycle our immense piles of waste.

However I remain hopeful for a more conscientious future and one of those hopeful signs is right in the Athletes Village where I go each day and see clean, large recycle bins everywhere. You don’t have to carry your banana peel or apple core very far before you can find a composting bucket with a clean –hopefully biodegradable – plastic bag inside ready to accept your offering. Beside the composting buckets is a huge drum to recycle plastic water, juice and pop bottles.

Some of the waste buckets are solar powered compactors like this one on the right.

Word is that Coke – one of the key Olympic sponsors – has a piece of equipment nearby that takes hundreds of plastic bottles and makes them into a 4x4x4 foot cube in seconds. The cubes are immediately sent to recycling plants.
Continue reading “Efforts for Greenest Games”

Sunshine and Excitement in the City

Gorgeous Vancouver day today! The sun is out, the sky is clear, the mountains seem closer to the city than ever and the views are spectacular. The weather has brought out lots of strollers into the streets of the Athletes’ Village. You realize how spectacular this city is when the weather is nice!

We are half way through the Games and the time is flying by. The energy in the city is electric. There are people everywhere with Go Canada on clothing, on signs and flags, on cars and trucks, in store windows, and reflected in their conversation. People are talking to each other everywhere – on the streets, in the sky train, waiting at stoplights, even in the grocery store. Locals are helping visitors to get to where they want to go, offering suggestions of great things to do, asking volunteers what work they are doing, where they are from, why they chose to volunteer and what it is like.
Continue reading “Sunshine and Excitement in the City”

Feeding the Hoards

One of the many challenges for VANOC is feeding hoards of volunteers 3 times a day at several different venues. I don’t know how many volunteers are working in the Athletes Village on any given day but the number is in the hundreds. Apparently there are 20-25,000 volunteers across all the sites.

Each individual receives a meal ticket when they check-in for their shift each day, evening or night. Every day there are 2 meat choices and a vegetarian one, as well as soup, salad, bread and butter, a drink and dessert for each person. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate are available all day long – particularly appreciated when it’s rainy and cold.

The food isn’t spectacular and lots of people are complaining but it tastes very good when you’re hungry! Dozens of volunteers are behind the serving tables dishing up the food. The lineups are long at key times of the day – an opportunity to get to know others in different jobs in the Village. Rumor has it that the cops – paid staff not volunteers – have complained about the food and so it has improved but I haven’t seen any difference.

It’s really interesting to see that the volunteer corps represents all ages and life stages, lots from the Vancouver area as well as other parts of BC. Then there are people like us from other provinces and a few from other countries.

Is Time Right for More Polyclinics in North America?

One of the reasons I was very excited about my volunteer assignment in the Polyclinic in the Athletes Village was the opportunity to really experience inter-professional practice in action.

It has been many years since I practiced clinical nursing and worked side by side with other health professionals in the field. Here was the chance to experience this in 2010, and in a setting where many health professionals are actively working together collaboratively to meet individual patient needs.

Like other health professionals in the field today, I use terms like inter-professional practice, collaboration and team work regularly and often discuss the actualities of important current concepts like patient-focused care. This seemed like an awesome opportunity to experience the realities of what many might call “lingo”.
Continue reading “Is Time Right for More Polyclinics in North America?”

The Polyclinic is Getting Busier

Today was a busy day at the Polyclinic. More and more people now know what’s available here. Dentistry is very busy as is the Optometrist especially with the Eastern Block countries. Physio and massage are booked regularly and appointments at Radiology (Xray), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and CT scanning are getting busier. Along with athletes in the Village sent by their team doctors and training staff, IOC officials and their guests are often sent in by the medical staff at the hotels where they are staying. They are known as Olympic Family and are treated with great hospitality by the host country.

As well as athletes and their friends arriving for this and that, there are many country delegations that come in to see the Operations and meet the providers and organizers of the Polyclinic. One of the groups visiting today was from the UK. I spoke with one of the doctors who is responsible for setting up the 2012 Summer Games healthcare services. He was surprised to know that we are all volunteers and very interested in our reasons for volunteering for this assignment. Continue reading “The Polyclinic is Getting Busier”

Downtown on a Sunny Sunday

Yesterday we had a day off and took the kids downtown to ride the Canada Line, see the torch (it’s surrounded by a chain link fence for safety reasons apparently), catch the Olympics vibe (amazing!) check out the Canada North pavilion (excellent!), maybe see the medals at the Mint pavilion if lineups not too long – they was a wait of 45 minutes – too long for 7 and 11 year olds!

We wanted to experience the sights and sounds. The buskers are in from all over the world and they are super – we particularly enjoyed a young South American and his excellent juggling act and then Basketball Jones who is in from New Zealand. What a skill in attracting and holding the crowd and not shy to ask for a 20 buck donation to his hat at the end! There were crowds everywhere enjoying it all on Granville St. which is closed to traffic.

We had hoped to ride the zipline but the wait was 4 hours. Sure looked fun though! Continue reading “Downtown on a Sunny Sunday”

Saturday in the Village

Lots of excitement today in the Village. Everyone is talking about the Opening Ceremonies. Tremendous pride in being Canadian. All the athletes are remembering the feelings of great emotion walking into the stadium with their teams.

People were very impressed with the inclusivity of the choices for the Opening – many are saying it was so Canadian! They loved Nellie and Brian, Sarah McLaughlin, KD Lang, Measha, the wonderful people who carried the Olympic Flag, loved the graphics, the poetry and portrayals of the different parts of the country. A very good start except of course for the very sad death of the Georgian athlete on the luge run.

Downhill skiing was cancelled today because of warm weather in Whistler. It’s cool here in Vancouver but not at all cold – drizzling rain with patches of sun. We are so glad to have the warm waterproof jackets they generously gave us! Continue reading “Saturday in the Village”

Rehearsal for the Opening Ceremonies

Yesterday Gord and I both had a day shift so we left together well before dawn to get there for 645am. It was our third shift which meant that after being scanned in and reporting to Workforce Checkin, we were given an Olympic pin and another hearty thanks for our volunteer service. Lots of people are collecting and trading these pins, hanging them on their lanyards for all to see and admire.

After coffee and fruit in the Workforce tent which is always warm and cosy, and filled with blue jackets, we went off to our separate work areas.

The great weather of our first day here has not lasted and it has been cool and rainy ever since. Occasionally we get a great glimpse of blue sky, the distant mountains and the beautiful Vancouver sky scrapers but often our heads are down, hoods in place to stay dry and warm. I am so thankful for the great warm waterproof clothes they have given us.

After our shifts yesterday we were invited to the rehearsal for the opening ceremonies at BC Place across from the Village. It was tempting to go home and miss it – we are still coping with the 3 hour time change and we had to trek a ways in the pouring rain – but we persevered and it was so worth it. The organizers have done a fantastic job inviting the world to see Canada’s many faces and the Opening Ceremonies are going to be a sight to see.

Evenings at the Clinic

Last night was my first evening at the Polyclinic. It’s beginning to feel really comfortable. Lots of fantastic people many from BC, others from all over North America. I worked with 3 nurses – 2 young fellows from Edmonton and another from the Royal Columbian here in Vancouver. All have taken their vacation to volunteer here for 3 weeks. They are all computer savyy so we get things organized together.

The sports med doc was from Minneapolis, loves volunteering at the Olympics. He has 3 young kids at home so he’s only here for a week. The other doc is from Quebec. We saw a steady stream of walk-in people until about 9pm and after that dead quiet. There’s lots of chat about where people are from and why they chose to do this.

I’m beginning to better understand the concept of a Polyclinic. Wikipedia says that a polyclinic is a place where a wide range of health care services (including diagnostics) can be obtained without the need for an overnight stay. Polyclinics are sometimes co-located with a hospital or may be located in another locality entirely. A typical polyclinic houses health practitioners such as doctors and nurses and provides ambulatory care and some acute care services but lacks the major surgical and pre- and post operative care facilities commonly associated with hospitals. Apparently polyclinics have existed for 10 or more years in Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the former Soviet republics such as Russia and Ukraine; and in many countries across Asia and Africa.

In this Olympic Polyclinic working alongside nurses and doctors are volunteer physios, massage therapists, chiropractors, optometrists, and dentists. As well we have lab, pharmacy, Xray, MRI, and CT scanning – all staffed with volunteers. Multi professional services are provided to the athletes and their entourage, IOC and NOC members and their families and the workforce which consists of hundreds of volunteers who are stationed in the Village. There is no hierarchy. The culture is very respectful of everyone’s expertise and the tone is highly collaborative.

This is a fantastic opportunity to see inter-professional care in action. I intend to watch carefully.