SUDBURY -- The term "hero" is oftentimes a subjective one, but right now, in the middle of a pandemic, it can be argued no one deserves it more than our first responders.

Among those first responders, are roughly 68,000 registered nurses and healthcare professionals who belong to the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) and have been working to keep us safe and healthy.

"I think it's fair to say that everyone, whether it's healthcare-related or not, has had a roller coaster ride with this pandemic," said Adrienne Barrett, a nurse in the nephrology unit at Health Sciences North. "I expect to go back and wear a little more personal protective equipment (PPE) than I did in the past."

Barrett has been off of work after losing a family member due to an illness not related to COVID-19. She is an independent dialysis body access nurse who helps educate patients and their families about kidney failure and coordinates their treatment.

She's known she wanted to be a nurse since the young age of five.

"I always wanted to be able to care for others but I think the best part about this, as I get older, that I get to see more situations, I get to see and perhaps understand more empathy, I get to see what it's like to be on the other side of the fence having had a family member go through the healthcare system during the pandemic," said Barnett. "Seeing the unbelievable work and care provided to him by entire teams, nurses included, it's incredibly humbling to think that I'm a part of that."

It's a similar story for Chantal Lamothe, a registered nurse at HSN, who works in clinical informatics at the hospital.

She's basically working on the digital front to help make it easier for nurses to treat their patients, something during this pandemic that's been more important now than ever.

"Our team has helped implement and deploy iPads to our patients in our COVID areas that are in a Ziploc bag, that you can disinfect as you need to and this allows them to speak with their nurse without the nurse having to get into full PPE," said Lamothe.

Lamothe said she too is grateful for the opportunity to work in a field where she is able to help others during this international time of need.

"Outbreaks in infectious disease are not new to us. It is definitely publicized at this point because of what's going on. They're working really hard, as they always do and I'm proud to be among them," she said.

Nurses Week comes with one more thing to celebrate this year, the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.