This is Christine and Maria. They are both nurses working on the COVID unit.
This is week five on our COVID unit. The first week was a little scary because we just didn’t know. Everything was suddenly different.
I remember the first day, coming off the elevator and seeing the signs. I thought to myself – it’s here. We had seen it in the media, we knew it was coming, but you can’t be ready for it till it’s here.
Now, I think we’re more comfortable – we feel protected and prepared. With my team here, I’m not afraid to come to work. We’re one large extended family. We’ve been here 30 years. This has to be home by now. We talk to each other as more than colleagues. We ask each other, ‘how are you doing?’ That’s what makes it count.
Christine and I were here for SARS. Then and now, our patients are isolated. They are locked away in their rooms. There’s nobody to talk to except the nurses and doctors for a few minutes every few hours. They’re here alone.
We give them phone lines and TV access – but it’s not enough. They need the human touch, the family touch, and that can’t be replaced.
I just want to be there for them and hold their hand. We are the extension of their families and can’t be there for them. It’s our biggest struggle.
I think most about the shelter people. I see them sitting on the streets and I worry about them. How will they protect themselves? We are used to seeing many of them come in. This time, many haven’t come in. It makes us wonder – where are they? Are they safe?
I make sure I’m extra diligent at home – I have elderly parents. I wear a mask at home too. It’s not the most comfortable – but whatever it takes to keep them safe. I don’t want to be responsible for my dad falling sicker as he has been unwell for the last two years. I’ve done everything I can to look after them and keep them out of a nursing home. I don’t want anything to happen to them.
During SARS, I remember my neighbour running away from me at the grocery store because she knew I worked at the hospital. this feels magnified times a billion.
Back then, we didn’t have the same media or cell phone access – and it was much more contained. Now, your head and heart don’t let you go outside without thinking twice or four times.
To my colleagues – thank you for being who you are, staying strong, and knowing that we are in this together. To the public – stay safe, and don’t forget to smile, and don’t let yourself lose positivity for one another. We’re all in this together.”
This interview was conducted on April 14, 2020.