While Toronto was in the grip of the SARS crisis in 2003, Lee Mantini faced the most demanding challenge of her nursing career.
She worked as a clinical co-ordinator at the Scarborough Hospital at the time, and was responsible for relocating five of the hospital’s outpatient clinics into the community to reduce the risk of spreading the respiratory disease.
Mantini had to set up temporary homes for the clinics, which handled more than 100 patients each day. At the same time her director was suddenly quarantined, leaving her solely in charge.
"It was a really intense time," Mantini says. "I learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was and the experience showed me just how important teamwork is under crisis conditions."
The Scarborough Hospital General Division had hired Mantini after she graduated from Centennial College in 1980. She assumed progressively more demanding roles, advancing to specialty areas including the hospital’s emergency department and the coronary care unit.
After the SARS crisis subsided, Mantini realized the time had come to broaden her experience beyond hospital-based nursing. "I’m the type of person who needs to be challenged and needs to keep learning."
She subsequently moved into community-based nursing, becoming a clinical consultant for Saint Elizabeth Health Care. Her first assignment was to develop a province-wide cultural diversity program. Despite a significant learning curve, she got the program up and running in only four months.
Much of her enthusiasm for community work had been fostered during her international assignments. Mantini had begun exploring her interest in international development by embarking on two short-term humanitarian missions, one to Bolivia in 1999 and one to Guyana in 2000.
She worked in remote indigenous communities in the Guyanese interior, providing health care and education.
This industrious nurse succeeded in developing the first-ever national home-based care strategy for the Guyanese government.
"I’ve always been adventurous and I’m passionate about helping those less fortunate than myself," Mantini says.
For more about Centennial College’s health studies visit www.centennialcollege.ca/future/healthstudies.jsp.