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Mount Forest doctor uses photography to put focus on nurses

North Wellington Health Care's chief of staff wanted to capture the emotion he saw in nurse's eyes to show the community

MOUNT FOREST – The Chief of Staff at North Wellington’s two hospitals has put a spotlight on nurses through a unique photography project. 

Dr. Christopher Rowley is also an amateur photographer and he was inspired by what he saw in the staff who were covered in PPE.

“During this pandemic in the hospitals, all you see of people are their eyes,” Rowley said. “It’s a peculiar thing in terms of emotional and social context of our interactions. People were on edge, emotionally fragile and you could see that in everybody’s eyes.”

Rowley wanted to capture this idea in photography and brought his camera with him on a few shifts at Louise Marshall and Palmerston & District Hospitals. He got permission to take photos and hang them in the front windows of his office on Main Street in Mount Forest. 

“I wasn’t sure when I started what I was going to do with them but then I liked how they turned out and thought I’d put them in my window,” Rowley said. “The community gets to see the nurses, see how we spend our days right now.”

He chose some nurses as his subjects because he said he feels they deserve high praises for the work they do. 

“The doctors make the big decisions and make the big bucks but the nurses are the ones that do all the caring in the hospitals,” Rowley said. “My vision of a hospital is that everyone is working to try to help the nurses care for patients.”

Rowley said he didn’t want clean-cut glamour photos but went for a grainy look with everything but the eyes blurred. He feels the pictures reflect strength but said people can read any emotions they want in the photos. 

“It’s been quite a big community buzz around it, people want to know what’s going on in health care,” Rowley said. “People care for their hospitals and people feel grateful for what frontline workers are doing and want an in to that world a little bit.”

Rowley said the timing for this couldn’t be better with National Nursing Week starting on May 11. 

“I’d like to claim that was my grand plan all along but it was somewhat coincidental,” Rowley said. “Accidental, but I’m glad I did.”