Our People in Profile: QEII Halifax Infirmary porter Lisa Hartlen loves working with patients

Lisa Hartlen is a casual porter at the QEII's Halifax Infirmary site.
Lisa Hartlen is a casual porter at the QEII's Halifax Infirmary site.

Lisa Hartlen loves working with patients but her favourite part of every day is seeing them leave the hospital.

The casual porter at the Halifax Infirmary enjoys wheeling a patient to the front doors and wishing them well as they go home after illness or injury.

“It’s a good feeling to know I took this person to a test or a procedure they needed and now they’re able to go home,” she said.

As a porter, Hartlen’s job is to safely move patients, equipment and specimens between the various areas of a hospital. On any given day, she walks more than 12 kilometers while transporting patients to operating rooms, to and from X-ray and CT scans for tests, to clinics for procedures, and between inpatient units when their care needs change.

Hartlen is one of about 220 porters working within Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). Her role is crucial to keeping things running smoothly and on time.

“I know every nook and cranny of this hospital,” said Hartlen, who approaches each call with a sense of urgency. “You don’t want people waiting to go for a test. They need these tests and we are here for them to make sure they get where they need to be.”

She knows it can be overwhelming for a patient to navigate to where they need to be in the hospital while dealing with any worry or illness at the same time.

A porter’s job is physically and mentally demanding. They provide comfort and emotional support to patients, who may be feeling ill, or distressed. They need to have good interpersonal skills, resilience and compassion.

Hartlen prides herself on her ability to connect with patients.

“I love making a difference in someone’s day,” she said.

Hartlen’s supervisor Tanya Godley, assistant manager of porter services in NSHA’s central zone, said that is evident based on the comments she receives from patients and staff.

“We hear good feedback about how she is with patients – how kind she is and how she can brighten someone’s day,” she said. “Being kind and listening goes a long way.”