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Two dozen and counting: Sask. hospital has a staff baby boom

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CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Regina’s Cole Davenport


Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 7:00PM EST

Two dozen women who work at the same Saskatchewan hospital are all currently off on parental leave — and more new parents are expected to join their ranks.

“It’s been crazy,” nurse and new mother Kelly Vatamaniuck told CTV Regina. “There’s been a new baby pretty much every month since March 2017.”

The new parents all work at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan, a city of just over 11,000 people that’s 200 kilometres southeast of Regina.

Fellow nurse Vanessa Dumais is also part of the hospital’s baby boom.

“Like every month there was one: October, November, December,” she recalled. “And then I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m pregnant too and maybe it would be funny if someone comes out next month and says they’re pregnant!’ And sure enough, there would be.”

‘CHALLENGES IN THE SHORT-TERM’

The parents currently on leave represent more than 10 per cent of the hospital’s staff.

“We have a young staff and it speaks very well to our future, but does present some challenges in the short-term,” Greg Hoffort, the hospital’s executive director, said.

The main challenge, Hoffort explained, has been finding temporary replacements — as well as conducting all the necessary training and orientation — for the new parents.

“We’re a facility that has in the neighbourhood of 200 fulltime equivalent staff, so it’s significant,” he said.

More parental leaves are also on the horizon.

“We’re all trickling back in and new ones are going off,” Dumais said.

“So many of them are starting to have baby number two,” Vatamaniuck added.

Kim Friess is about to join their ranks.

“I’m excited that I’m off work now and I’m having my baby,” she said. “I can join this group of girls and be part of all the fun!”

‘FORMED OUR OWN LITTLE FAMILY’

While having so many people on parental leave might be putting the hospital in a bit of a staffing bind, the new mothers say that it also gives them an incredible support network as they navigate the inevitable ups and downs of having little ones at home.

Chelsea Meyer is another new mother who works at the hospital.

“I feel like when I went off with (my son), if it was three in the morning, some of my other friends were also up at three in the morning,” she said. “I could text them and at least we could kind of keep each other company, so it was nice that way.”

“We talk all the time,” Vatamaniuck added. “We help each other with any situation we might have. Everybody has a problem one day or the next and it’s been a good support, especially for me, because I don’t have a lot of family around here.”

Mallory Olson is one of the newest members of this growing club.

“Being a new mom can be lonely, especially if you don’t have a lot of support,” she explained. “I know a lot of us don’t have family from the city, so we’ve kind of formed our own little family.”

For more, visit CTV Regina.

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LIFESTYLES

Nobody would give this teen with autism a job, so he started a business

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A 17-year-old Australian teen with autism started his own business cleaning garbage bins after he was rejected for other jobs.

“I searched and applied for jobs for two years and did not get one interview,” Clay Lewis told CTV News Channel from his home in Brisbane, Australia.

As of January, his business, Clay’s Bin Cleaning, has made more than AUS$6,000 and has roughly 70 clients.

He charges AUS$10 for the first bin and AUS$5 for each additional bin. He regularly offers free bin cleaning to local charities.

“I’m very proud of him,” his mother Laura Lewis told CTV News Channel. “I knew that he could do it.”

She added that employers were unable to “see past their own judgments” and made “unfair assumptions” about Clay’s competency because of his disability.

Clay said that he is looking forward to attending his high school prom and may put some of his earnings toward funding a trip to Abu Dhabi to watch his first Formula 1 race.

Lewis said that Clay’s story has given hope to a lot of people, particularly parents of children with autism.

“All Clay is doing is living a 17-year-old’s ordinary life: working, going to school, having a girlfriend and hanging out with friends,” she said.

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LIFESTYLES

Meet Jelly Bean, the deaf canine contender for World’s Most Amazing Dog title

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CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV London’s Sacha Long


Published Friday, February 22, 2019 7:50PM EST

A deaf Ontario dog is in the semi-finals of the World’s Most Amazing Dog competition, an interactive Facebook Watch show where dogs compete for a US$100,000 prize.

Jelly Bean, a three-year-old Australian cattle dog who lives in London, Ont., can catch and pass a ball with his front paws and jump on a stranger’s back. He follows the instructions of his handler, Melissa Mellitt, by sight because cannot hear.

“He is so highly intelligent,” Mellitt told CTV London. “He has no idea that he’s deaf. He doesn’t care. He’s just as happy as any other dog.”

Mellitt adopted Jelly Bean from the Deaf Dog Rescue of America when he was five months old. He has since gone on to travel across Canada as a professional stunt dog and works with Mellitt as an assistant to help rehabilitate fearful dogs.

“We knew that he had this potential,” she said. “This is exactly what I knew he was going to be.”

Mellitt hopes that Jelly Bean’s performance in the competition will help shatter some of the stigma around deaf dogs, who are often believed to be ill tempered and incapable of being trained. Mellitt said breeders euthanize many of them at birth, but she believes that Jelly Bean’s inability to hear is his “cool factor.”

If Jelly Bean wins the competition, Mellitt said that she plans to give half of the winnings to the Deaf Dog Rescue of America.

Viewers of the World’s Most Amazing Dogs competition get to vote on who should move to the finals.

“I think he could go all the way,” Mellitt said.

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Funeral held for sailor in V-J Day Times Square kiss photo

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NEWPORT, R.I. — The sailor photographed kissing a woman in Times Square at the end of World War II was mourned Friday at a funeral in Rhode Island.

George Mendonsa’s funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, and he was buried at St. Columba Cemetery in Middletown.

Mendonsa died Sunday after he fell and had a seizure at an assisted living facility, his daughter said. He was 95 and leaves behind his wife of 72 years.

Mendonsa kissed Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform, on Aug. 14, 1945, known as V-J Day, the day Japan surrendered.

The two had never met.

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of the kiss became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. First published in Life magazine, it’s called “V-J Day in Times Square,” but is known to most as “The Kiss.”

Another photographer, Victor Jorgensen, who was in the Navy, also captured the moment in a similar photo. The moment has been shared widely and is often seen on posters.

Several people later claimed to be the kissing couple, and it was years before Mendonsa and Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.

Mendonsa enlisted in the Navy in 1942, after high school. He served on a destroyer during the war.

Mendonsa was on leave when the end of the war was announced. When he was honoured at the Rhode Island State House in 2015, Mendonsa said Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.

On Monday, a statue depicting the kiss in Sarasota, Florida, was vandalized. The phrase “.MeToo” was spray-painted on the leg of the statue.

Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it wasn’t her choice to be kissed.

“The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she told the Library of Congress.

She added, “It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”

Friedman fled Austria during the war as a 15-year-old girl. She died in 2016 at age 92 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age.

After the war, Mendonsa became a commercial fisherman, like his father, and worked until he was 82. He died two days before his 96th birthday.

Survivors include his wife, Rita; and his children, Ronald Mendonsa and Sharon Molleur, and their families.

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