By Natalie Bubela, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) CEO
Earlier this year, our collective sacrifices helped flatten the curve of COVID-19. But the growing case count is a warning that our hard-won progress is slipping away. Our collective commitment to containing the virus is particularly critical given the steep increase in daily positive cases, growing number of hospitalizations and limited acute care capacity. Each of us once again needs to do our part and work together to help fight the second wave. Now more than ever we need to follow public health measures and make appropriate decisions for our own safety and the safety of others, especially those most vulnerable.
For months now our health care teams at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare have been working tirelessly on the front lines to keep our patients and our greater communities safe. With lived experience they see the pandemic through different eyes. Through this month’s blog, we are raising awareness of the need for everyone to be ‘COVID-conscious’ and play an active part in preventing the further spread of COVID-19. Many have come forward to share the everyday practical choices they’re making and decisions they have made personally to protect others from COVID-19. They challenge you to join them in taking the pledge to #StoptheSpread.
Rebecca, a Registered Practical Nurse tells us, “all public health measures have been followed. We are trying to stop the spread of COVID-19 by keeping social circles small, limiting exposure by not going to restaurants or making unnecessary shopping trips, and by wearing masks when social distancing is not an option.”
Mary Ellen from the Laboratory says, “My family followed Ontario Public Health guidelines when my father who was in long-term care passed away in August during COVID-19. We had to limit the number of people who could attend the funeral mass and they had to submit their names and be put on a list and be placed in fixed seating spaces. No hugging was allowed and physical distancing was followed. Every person who attended was required to wear a mask or face covering.”
Dr. John Simpson tells us: “Deciding not to spend time with any family this Thanksgiving was a really tough decision—one our family made this year to help #StoptheSpread. An extended family video chat and a ‘Thanksgiving Trivia Challenge’ proved to be a lot of fun instead and may become a yearly tradition too. My little sister even sent a Tim Hortons card to the winner! Yah! Video chats, online trivia and silly online games with friends, and sharing funny texts and messages with family and friends has helped keep my teens and my family connected! Donning a fun scrub cap along with our daily mask and outfit at work helps to lighten the mood of our new work reality. It also reminds others to be careful with everything we touch, sanitize and wash our hands lots, and to transition to clean clothes with any transition away from work. The fun caps have helped the ‘not so great hairdos’ of COVID as well. It’s fun being ‘corn head’, ‘brain boy’, ‘carrot top’… you get the idea. Helping to #StoptheSpread is a great message to pass on and constantly challenge us all! Join with mine and yours!”
Liz in Administration says, “Zoom is in! Visits with friends and family outside of my bubble are out! There’s a part of me that still can’t fathom this is happening. I miss the spontaneity of life. I’ve had to adapt to new ways of creating meaningful times while keeping myself and others safe. It’s been a tough ride but I know if we all do our part we can curtail the second wave. Nature has become my solace.”
Adrienne, a Ward Clerk, explains: “I avoid high-risk activities such as non-essential travel, dining out, going to the movies, going to the gym and getting my hair cut.”
Allison, an Executive Assistant says, “I subscribe to a workout app so that I can exercise in the comfort and safety of my own home. I do my workouts virtually to protect my friends and family. It is important for all of us to take the time for ourselves each day to stay healthy physically and mentally during these stressful and anxious times.”
Dr. Jennifer Macmillan shares: “I have been consistently wearing a mask in all public spaces, at work and in the community. I perform hand hygiene prior to and following every patient assessment. We have converted our hospital committee meeting to a Zoom meeting monthly. We have converted the annual general meeting of the Ontario Association of General Surgeons to a virtual meeting. I strongly encourage my teenagers to be compliant with mask wearing and with hand hygiene every day, not just in school. I have spoken with them about the importance of these measures. Even if they think they will not become ill from COVID-19, they put the whole family at risk (including grandparents), and they compromise my ability to work, which also has significant implications for the patients in our community as well as the nursing staff at the hospital.”
Nurses Lesley-Anne, Kathy and Angela tell us: “Outside of work and inside work we social distance!”
Dr. Kristen Jones explains: “I wear a mask every day, carry hand wash in my purse/car/pocket and minimize the number of people I see in person. There are a lot more phone calls and Zoom calls. My family has cancelled many gatherings including Easter, August long weekend and Thanksgiving. We stay in more often so we have been playing lots of board games!”
Our health care heroes continue to be vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 and remain committed to #StopTheSpread of the virus, and more stories will be featured on our Facebook page (follow us @MAHCHospitals). Together, we encourage our communities to re-commit to following strict public health measures, such as wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing, physical distancing and limiting personal contact.
You, too, can take the pledge to #StoptheSpread by visiting www.ontariocovidpledge.ca.
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