Seeing triple

Three sisters have people doing double-takes – even triple-takes – in the hallways of St. Boniface Hospital.

Marijke, Anna, and Julia Fritschij are identical triplets, and they all work at the Hospital. What’s more, they were born at St. Boniface 25 years ago, and each spent a month in the Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before their parents could bring them home.

Now, they’ve come full-circle and are happy to have the opportunity to give back. “Always walking in the hallways with smiles on our faces,” says Julia.

“We don’t know anything differently, but being triplets is like having two best friends that are always with you,” says Julia. “We’re super close.”

“Close is an understatement,” adds Anna.

“People might not understand the bond triplets share, but we are inseparable,” adds Marijke.

The sisters come by working in the health care field honestly. Their mother used to run a group home for individuals with intellectual disabilities. “I believe we inherited the interest to help others from her,” says Anna.

Marijke is a respiratory therapist (RT), who started three years ago. “I like the excitement of my job,” she says. “As an RT, we go to all the emergencies and anything that’s critical care.”

Julia is a registered nurse, who started two years ago. She works on the Hospital’s Specialty Relief Team. “I’m generally helping patients and their families in their most difficult times; it’s quite satisfying and rewarding,” she says.

Anna is an occupational therapist, who started in July 2019. “What drew me to occupational therapy was its diversity – no two days alike,” she says.

Co-worker confusion

Telling the identical triplets apart hasn’t been easy for their colleagues at the Hospital. Often, people they don’t know will smile and wave at them in the hallways.

Says Marijke:

They get us confused all the time. It happens at least a couple of times a day. Every shift.

“Every day,” agrees Julia.

Respiratory therapists are part of the code team (for cardio-pulmonary arrest) which includes ICU nurses, physicians, health care aides and support staff.

“A code blue was called once, and I was the nurse. I rushed in, and the ICU nurses were there. They were looking at me like, ‘Why is Marijke wearing nursing scrubs? She should be in charge of the airway!’ They soon realized I was her sister,” said Julia.

“People have asked me how I can be a respiratory therapist and a nurse at the same time, which is not the case,” says Marijke. “That’s my sister! We’re used to it.”

“The confusion clears up when colleagues and staff see us all eating lunch together in the cafeteria. They realize it’s not one person trained in three professions, but rather, identical sisters in their respective positions,” says Anna.

Even as they get mistaken for each other, the sisters are making their family proud. “Our mom was excited for all of us to get the opportunity to work at St. Boniface Hospital,” says Anna.

“She received a lot of support when she had us, and when we were in the NICU in 1994. Our Mom is thankful for that, and now feels like we’re giving back and providing the support for others in the Hospital.”

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