Clover Hemans: PIVOTING IN COVID TIMES
Part of our series highlighting the work of our members and how it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pandemic. If you would like to share your story, please contact our national office at [email protected].
PIVOTING IN COVID TIMES
Clover Hemans, BScN, MD, MScQIPS, CCFP, FCFPC
National President, FMWC
I was following the news, and especially Twitter, in trepidation since late December 2019, when I heard the cry by a doctor from Wuhan, China, warning of a strange new flu-like illness that was quietly taking thousands of lives. I became very alarmed in early January when I heard that China was going to build a 1,000-bed hospital for what was then officially published as 100 fatalities from this new flu-like illness. I actually tweeted that it was unlikely that a country would quickly build a 1000 bed hospital for 100 deaths. Not much more was published that December with the exception of that same doctor who sounded the alarm being admonished publicly for inciting unrest. As you know by now, Dr. Li Wenliang, died from Covid-19 and is now considered a hero for bringing this news to early public attention.
Fast forward to March 11, 2020. After months of watching the coronavirus spread globally, the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This unleashed a political and public health tsunami not seen in our lifetimes. I, like many, felt like an unwitting character in the movie Contagion. I recognized all of us had a part to play. I dug out my neglected will, taped it to cabinet in my office, organized the guest bedroom for my husband for the foreseeable future and signed up for the Covid-19 Assessment Clinic in my hospital. With the exception of Life or Limb Work in operating rooms jarred to an abrupt stop. I am used to wearing a mask most of the day. N95s, however, when properly fitted, are, at best, uncomfortable and commonly create mild hypoxic headache. I hate them. I really, truly do. I wear them, though, because I must.
Suddenly my home is a place where hugs do not occur and physical distancing is practiced even inside. At times, I am lonely in my own home. This is a reality for many households.
Why do we do this? We care for people with health care needs because that is what we do. We are part of a team of folk who when we come together, accomplish much more.
The assessment clinics have been fraught with daily changes lead by our public health officials. As the pandemic unfolded, PPE became a resource worth more than Apple stock. Covid testing kits were scarce and directions to us to determine who were “priority test worthy” seemingly changed on the fly. It was quite chaotic at times. Added to this was the unexpected challenge by our provincial government which prevents timely remuneration to frontline physicians for work done dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.
Talk about testing our resilience.
I cope by keeping in contact with friends and colleagues for mutual support. I’ve learned to turn off notifications when I’m ready to sleep. I’ve developed a Covid-19 assessment form for our clinic which saves time, adds to standardized questions, and hopefully will add information for epidemiologic and clinical improvement going forward. This soothes my Quality Improvement and Patient Safety side. We should at least gain some improvement data from the struggles we are all undertaking to prevent spread of this highly contagious disease.
I have gratitude for the many people of all stripes and backgrounds who have come forward to share and care for us doing this time. I feel blessed.
Take care, keep well, safe & protected.