Updated: Jun 12
Looking back a year ago, I wrote this post about the changes happening to healthcare during the first wave of the pandemic.
Today, the situation is remarkably different.
Our province is currently the COVID hotspot in North America, and our little corner on the prairies is garnering media attention for being the least vaccinated region, accounting for 40% of the ICU patients in the province while many are being transferred to hospitals across Canada because our resource are maxed out and we can’t care for them all here.
Life is locked down; restaurants are open for takeout only, school is on remote learning, and corporate worship is on hold, as restrictions continue, while case numbers hopefully continue to decline. People feel exhausted, anxious and lonely. Families in quarantine can spend weeks in their home as the virus passes from one family member to the next.
While we are all experiencing this in our own way, with unique struggles and hardships, I think we all just want this to be over, and for life to return to ‘normal.’
But until then, those of us working in healthcare continue to treat and care for those coming into the hospital with this viral pneumonia, day after day, in this weary and critical time. I think if you’d ask any of us, we need both your help and your prayers.
Understand the Helplessness
Entering the medical profession, as physicians, nurses and healthcare aides, our goal is to help people, to treat your symptoms, or your illness so that you can continue living your life with the best health possible.
During the last couple of weeks our ER has been sending patients to the city every day with a breathing tube, on a ventilator because the viral pneumonia has caused them to be so sick. Every. Day. This is an intervention we used to do once every couple of months, not daily.
To put the tube in, the patient has to be sedated and they need to stay that way while on the ventilator. Because we don’t know what will happen with their health, the moments before may be the last chance they have to say goodbye to their family. So, we help facilitate their goodbyes; if they can speak, they talk on the phone, if they are too short of breath we relay the heart-wrenching words.
It breaks your heart.
As nurses in the ER we are very good at compartmentalizing our emotions so we can do our job effectively, but eventually there comes a breaking point from all the heartache; as a result it sometimes comes out in anger, blame or frustration.
It would be similar if we had patients arriving by ambulance daily with a broken neck from a traumatic car accident because they weren’t wearing their seat belt. That’s a serious injury, some may pass away. After the second, third or fourth time with the same accident, and the same result, we’d begin to see a pattern, and as the days continue on with the same problem over and over again, we’d probably start to shout out, “People, wear your seat belt!”
The Struggle with Misinformation
This is why you hear healthcare workers advocating for vaccination. Research shows us that outbreaks and spread of the virus significantly diminish when people are vaccinated. ICU admissions show us it’s not vaccinated patients occupying those beds. This tells us that there are better outcomes through using a vaccine.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there and there are a lot of fears. It reminds me of our time in rural Africa when I’d wander around the village doing malaria education. One of the most effective ways of reducing malaria infections is to sleep with a bed net at nighttime, since the Anopheles mosquito-the critter that carries the parasite-feeds at night.
Aid organizations and the government hand out mosquito nets in droves to help prevent it, yet to my surprise many were using them as a fence to protect their small gardens from chickens. I thought that was curious. Home after home I’d visit and ask questions about what they understood about malaria, and to my surprise I discovered that many of the people believed the mosquito nets caused infertility, that the organizations from North America with ulterior motives thought Africans should stop having children, so they provide the nets for free.
Completely taken aback, I startled to know how to address this, so I shared some information and modeled by example, since our family happily slept under nets. And so, I will endeavor to lead by example in this as well (without sharing a selfie with my vaccination sticker).
I totally realize we may agree to disagree. And that’s ok. It may not be the first time, and it may not be the last. I will still love and care for you. We can still worship our Lord and Savior, united in Christ.
As an encouragement, if you have questions, find someone you trust and ask. Talk with your family doctor. You’ll not get a lecture, but an opportunity to feel heard and responded to. This is one way you can help.
Endeavor To Be A Light
For our agricultural community, I’d offer an analogy.
What if a new variety of dandelions somehow started spreading across grassy lawns in our town, and they became a super spreader with hundreds of seeds infiltrating the nearby fields. Suddenly, wheat, bean and corn fields are overrun by dots of yellow flowers, which may look pretty from afar, but not to the farmer.
The crops begin to languish as the weed suffocates them out. The harvest is looking extremely grim. Then, a treatment arrives, maybe it’s a spray, it helps the fields for awhile but the yards in town need it too, otherwise the seeds keep on broadcasting. You’d probably want to ask the community for help. You need these dandelions to stop spreading if your crops are going to grow, but they refuse.
“I live in town, the dandelions don’t bother me," they’d say.