Wellington author’s latest book shines light on healthcare workers

Len Wagg and Angela Mombourquette's We Rise Aa=gain book spotlighting the healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Healey photo)

WELLINGTON: An author from Wellington is shining a light on those in Nova Scotia’s healthcare system who are leading the fight against COVID-19.

Len Wagg along with co-author Angela Mombourquette recently penned “We Rise Again,” a follow-up of sorts to Wagg’s first book on the pandemic in N.S., Stay The Blazes Home.

This time around there was a bit more of a hurry up.

“It was a tight time-frame because where everything got cancelled last year, this year everything was put off until, so it was really tight to get it in,” said Wagg, noting he approached the publisher, Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press, about the idea for a second book.

“Angela came on board as a co-author with me, and that was great because the way we did it was, I would go out and do the interviews and do those stories and then Angela would take the transcripts on the stories and kind of edit them all into something readable.”

“There were a lot of stories that hadn’t been told and the more we got into it, the more it was the healthcare workers, the healthcare workers, the healthcare workers. They started it, and a year ago none of us were vaccinated and here they are out there working.”

He was amazed at the stories on those working in the COVID-19 testing unit and how they went from 200 a day to 20,000 a day.

“I wanted to know kind of why,” said Wagg. “and then obviously you know we have the stories what drives Doctor Strang., what keeps him going, why is he this calming force in this storm. But along with him he always said it was the people behind him.

“Then we have Dr. Lisa Barrett, who did what she did and again the calming thing, and then you have a vaccine roll out for a million people how do you do it. You have Tracey Barbrick, a deputy minister who was the architect for it.:

He then spoke of interpreters Richard and Debbie who did the COVID-19 briefing, and they even became well-known.

“It was all these stories and that’s why we got on it and did We Rise Again and got it done,” he said.

Wagg said We Rise Again hasn’t done as well as Stay The Blazes Home, but he’s okay with that. It’s all about the stories that were written about.

“I actually had a conversation with Dr. Strang, and I think that this book is more important then the first one,” said Wagg. “Stay The Blazes Home was a moment in time, but these are the people behind the mask, behind the faces, you know, behind the kind of doors. These are the people who are actually doing.

“I think that it’s more important to tell their story.”

He spoke about the work involved in getting the stories from interviews to publish.

“That’s the thing you have people like Tracey Barbrick, and you feel bad asking for their time from people like Dr. Strang, Dr. Barrett,” he said. “But then you have people I went and met, like Holly Gillis who did the mobile testing. The last time it was done was in 1947 so there was no framework for it. She invented it all. I would go to where they were to get the story.”

Wagg said the thing he learned was that the province’s public health system is very mobile.

“You think of the public health system as in the hospital, but if there’s an outbreak in the community bam the mobile team went there,” he said.

He learned about the contact tracers and that 50 per cent of needles in arms were done by Nova Scotia pharmacies.

“What an amazing thing,” he said. “Everyone was working together, but when you look at the healthcare system in the future if pharmacists can do this, what else could they do?”

Wagg said We Rise Again is available at most all bookstores and online via Indigo and Amazon.

He said having Mombourquette on board helped lessen the weight he had to carry.

“It did lessen the load because I knew Angela was a pro,” he said. “We did the same thing for the first book, only this time she has her name on it. It was really great to have her as an official part of the team.”

Wagg has done five books over a span of three years, so when asked what’s next for him? That was an easy answer.

“I’m going to take a breather and really sit back for the next 12 months or so,” he said.

Before the interview concluded, Wagg added that people in the healthcare system they truly are remarkable, but they don’t consider themselves that.

“They consider themselves as just doing their jobs,” Wagg said. “What they want us to do is get vaccinated, what they want us to do is stay as healthy as you can.”