Faces in the Crowd – A Heart to Heart Conversation

Posted on February 2, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment

Running. Good for the heart and the soul

“ I am so blessed. I live in a wonderful place. I love what I do. I have a great partner.”

Meet Lena MacDonald

Lena was born in Sydney Forks, Cape Breton. Her father was a school bus driver and her mother worked for the telephone company. In the early years, she and her brother had to be driven everywhere because they lived outside of the city. Freedom showed up for Lena at the age of ten when new sidewalks were installed.

She loved taking part in sports at school. A big thrill in junior high was playing basketball. It was doubly so as she now had a uniform with matching socks!

With grade twelve looming on the horizon, she turned her thoughts to university. She didn’t have a clue what she would take but sciences and math were two subjects that she enjoyed.  Her uncle suggested that with all of the new medical advances, the health care field might be worth pursuing. A visit to her school guidance counsellor sealed the deal, in an odd sort of way. She was told that the nursing program was very difficult…. maybe even too difficult.  Lena decided to prove to the counsellor, and herself, that she had the ability and determination to take up the challenge.

Her four years at St.F.X. were not easy. The work load was very heavy, leaving little or no time for extracurricular activity or even a part time job. And there was added pressure at home as her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Nursing jobs were scarce in Nova Scotia and across the country. She and three classmates ended up in the same hospital in Florida. By the time she left, that number had swelled to ten and the institution was dubbed “ The All Canadian Hospital.” While she enjoyed the work and the company of colleauges, as Lena said, “ It wasn’t Cape Breton.”

During this time, her leadership qualities emerged and she was encouraged to become a charge nurse. She moved to Raleigh/Durham , North Carolina. There was a good deal of pressure associated with the work and after a year and a half, she was ready for a change. She contacted St. Martha’s Hospital in Antigonish and in March of 1998, she started work there, first as a casual and then full time in 1999. She worked both Emergency and I.C.U until 2006. During this time, she completed her Masters of Nursing Degree at Dalhousie University and became a nurse practitioner.

Because of her extensive work in I.C.U., she became very interested in cardiac care. She approached the hospital administration about establishing a Heart Health Clinic. “ St. Martha’s was very forward thinking and progressive and agreed to my proposal.” The Heart Health Clinic is for people who have a high risk of having a heart attack or who have had a heart attack or stroke. “ My job as a nurse practitioner is to manage the process for patients who have suffered a heart attack. I am totally hands on with the patients.”

Lena derives great satisfaction from her work. “ It is a privilege to be able to help people and improve the quality of their lives. I hope to be able to continue this work for the remainder of my career.”

Of course, exercise is an important aspect in everyone’s health and well being and Lena “ practices what she preaches.” Around seven years ago, she took a “ learn to Run 5K “ class as part of the hospital’s Wellness Initiative For Staff. She fell in love with running and has completed 5 half marathons. “ Running clears your head. The fresh air is invigorating and you get to see nature unfold in front of you.”

She and her partner of 19 years are outdoors people and can be found four wheeling or snowmobiling on Brown’s Mountain or Eigg Mountain where they enjoy the solitude of nature.

February is Heart Health month and Lena encourages anyone who may be at risk to come and have a “ heart to heart” conversation with her.


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One Response to Faces in the Crowd – A Heart to Heart Conversation

  1. Y Fox says:

    Way to go, Len. Very appropriate topic. I’m in my 47th or 48th year as Captain for the NS Heart and Stroke Residential campaign for Port Hastings and District.I keep saying I’m not going to do it another year, but I have a great group of volunteers. Gordon Sheppard says as long as I’m the one calling, he’ll keep doing it. Now that makes it difficult for me when head office calls in July to ask if I’ll do it for the following year. It’s Gordon’s 28th year of saying yes when I call. It’s Darren Graham’s 20th, Helen Griffith’s 24th, Julia MacKinnon’s 18th, and Wanda MacNeil’s 19th. Others are 10 and more. We stopped at the Bergengren on our way back from Truro on Tuesday. Cheers guy.

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