April 13: “How do you even triage patients who are aged 30 to 50?”

Inside the hospital walls, we have shifted to bracing ourselves for what we know is coming. We are figuring out staffing/redeployment, expansion of medical units, possible medication rationing and triaging for sick patients. How do you even triage patients who are aged 30 to 50? It’s scary to think about. The stress is palpable. What never ceases to amaze me is the resiliency of the team I work with. We will need each other to get through these next few weeks.

I’m grateful to my husband, who has leaned in to look after our young son while I work longer hours. I feel for all the parents who are now schooling their children at home. While I’ve always been a proponent of keeping schools open in past waves, this time around, I truly don’t think it’s safe. At least not until community vaccine rates are higher.

I’m not sure how we will spread our resources out over the patients I know are coming. I don’t know how we will hire enough staff to treat and vaccinate everyone when the entire province needs manpower to do this at the same time. But for now, I put my head down, work and hope for the best. There isn’t time to do much else. I wish those in power could see what we see on the clinical wards. If they were here, day in and day out, I guarantee we’d be making different decisions.

Vaccine access is expanding on paper but every day, I hear stories of vulnerable high-risk people not able to get a vaccine appointment. Expanding means more than just allowing more people to book on an online tool. It has to come with tangible ways to overcome structural barriers to access. Otherwise, we still won’t be reaching many of those at highest risk and slots will be skewed heavily toward the resourced and privileged.

The brightest part of my days are strategizing how we are going to improve vaccine access for vulnerable people – setting up mobile clinics, going to housing complexes, community centres and inpatient wards. This is my glimmer of hope that this crisis will eventually come to an end.

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Seema Marwaha


Seema Marwaha is a general internal medicine physician, educator, researcher and journalist in Toronto.

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