This is Ritika. She is a family doctor.
“I recently cared for an individual in my primary care practice who ended up screening positive for COVID on our triage questions. We informed him that he had to go and get swabbed at the assessment centre. For somebody who has a place to stay, that alone might be a scary proposition. But for this individual, this meant thinking about whether he was going to lose his shelter bed, not be able to access his belongings, or be shipped off to somewhere really far away to be kept in isolation.
It was a really powerful reminder that we have to use an equity lens when creating healthcare pathways and think about who is most impacted by these conditions.
I have spent time reflecting deeply around experiences like these – ones that have highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on those experiencing homelessness, migrants with precarious immigration status, those with severe mental illness or with addictions. They are often excluded from our healthcare system or face multiple barriers to access to care.
It is important to reflect on how these barriers are heightened during a global pandemic.
I’ve been amazed by what governments can actually do when light is brought to an issue that has been longstanding – like recent actions around access to health care for the uninsured, an issue that has received long-standing advocacy but saw policy change almost overnight after healthcare providers came together to advocate during the pandemic. This was on the back of years and years of being told that this was impossible.
This is a good reminder for me that anything is possible – and we must make the case for why these pieces matter, both during the pandemic and beyond it.
Let’s pay attention to what the pandemic is teaching us about our society: that we need to take care of those with precarious jobs, recognize the importance of childcare on our economy, of paid sick days, and access to health care for people regardless of immigration status. These cracks in our healthcare system are of universal importance and will persist beyond the pandemic.”