ER Visit Sparks New Respect for Front-line Workers
By Tina Pierson, CLAC Research Assistant
Last Friday night, I was told by Telehealth Ontario and my doctor to go to my local emergency room. It was non-COVID related and I was hesitant to go. The ER is the last place any of us want to be in the midst of a pandemic.
My husband convinced me to go and he dropped me at the entrance to the emergency room at Brantford General Hospital. I had a mask that covered my mouth, an eye shield, a scarf to wrap around my face, and rubber gloves, all per my doctors instructions. I entered the doors and encountered two checkpoints, had to answer numerous questions, and had to soak my hands in sanitizer. Only then was I finally allowed to enter the waiting room.
I was wary as I entered, but the facilities were well laid out for social distancing and were extremely clean. I was put through triage and registration in a timely manner. I saw a physician’s assistant and then a doctor shortly after that. The whole experience was streamlined and pleasant.
I had a good experience at the Brantford hospital, but that’s not what this is about. This is about the abject fear I felt sitting in that waiting room, wrapped up in my makeshift PPE, trying to stay seven feet away from anything that moved, and struggling to not touch anything while still needing to navigate the system.
I like to think of myself as a rational, logical person, but whatever ability I had to be sensible went straight out the window when I entered the hospital in the middle of a global pandemic.
I was there for a total of four hours. I felt like I had run a marathon. The fear these front-line workers must be feeling is unimaginable. They have earned my wholehearted respect and support.
We need to do whatever it takes to make life as easy as possible for all the doctors, nurses, personal support workers, administrative staff, and whomever else I’ve missed. They are fighting a war out there. They must be exhausted, not just from the work they are doing, but from the fear and anxiety they are most likely feeling every second of their shift. They are people, just like the rest of us, who don’t want to get sick, and worry they may be bringing that sickness back to their families and loved ones.
The public needs to do anything we can to support these workers. CLAC is in a unique position to help front-line workers, and I know we are doing everything in our power to improve their working conditions.
For me, it was an awakening. These workers are not just doing their jobs—they are going above and beyond what they were called to do. No one should work feeling the kind of fear I felt. On my way out of the hospital there was a PPE donation cart. I had five masks with me, and I placed them on the cart. They won’t make a dent, but maybe they will make someone feel safer for an hour or two.