People of KHSC: Lewis Ward

News / General
By John Pereira

People of KHSC celebrates individuals across KHSC who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other

When the Ottawa REDBLACKS kicked-off their Canadian Football League season earlier this month, they had a former Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) employee in uniform.

During the team’s extended offseason, Redblacks kicker and Kingston native, Lewis Ward, traded his helmet for a facemask, working as an Access Control Screener during the pandemic.

“The 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I was thinking about coming back to Kingston to find a job and live at home to save a little money,” says Ward who is the CFL’s record holder for most consecutive field goals. “My mom is a nurse at the Hotel Dieu and told me about the job posting and I thought it sounded interesting. I did the job interview over Zoom, was offered the position and packed up and moved home to Kingston. It’s the first time I’ve lived in Kingston since my second year in University when I came back for the summer.”

“It’s not uncommon for players to get a part-time job during a normal offseason. We’re so busy during the season that when it’s over you feel like you have nothing to do. Most guys want to keep busy and stay active, normally I’d work part-time at a performance gym and coach kids, but this year was quite a bit different.”

As an access control screener at the KGH site, Ward was on the front-line of the pandemic, or in football terms, right on the line of scrimmage. His job was to screen each person coming into the hospital to ensure they met a set of criteria designed to keep patients, families and staff safe.

“It was a great experience. It was really eye opening to see the number of people that come in and out of a hospital every day. I didn’t realize how busy the hospital is on a daily basis, I’d see hundreds of people a day.”

“It could be difficult at times when you’d give a family some unfortunate news, like when they fail a screening question because they had COVID symptoms or had recently travelled, and we couldn’t let them in to visit. Having to break that kind of news to people is tough, but the way I approach those situations is to use my communication skills. It all depends on how you treat other people in these difficult situations.”

After wrapping up his position with KHSC and having completed two separate quarantine periods, Ward was able to rejoin his teammates at the beginning of July for training camp. He’s taken a few new skills with him back to Ottawa.

“There’s a lot that goes on with a professional football team and sometimes players can be impatient with the new protocols or distancing within the facility. It’s just a matter of being aware of these protocols and staying patient. In the hospital, there was always a new protocol from the government that we would need to implement. No matter what job you’re in you need to stay patient and communicate with those around you."

But now, Ward is focused on the new task at hand, as the Redblacks play their home opener against the BC Lions on August 28.

“It’s exciting to get back with all the guys again. Having a year off in 2020 has been tough and 2019 was not a positive season for us as a team. So it’s really just focusing on bouncing back this year and making it a positive one. I’ll do my part to help us win some football games.”