April 9: The nightmare is coming true

The nightmare scenario from last April is reality today. Elective surgeries are shutting down. Health-care workers are being redeployed. Province-wide stay at home orders are in effect. Now we patiently wait to see if we can bend the curve. Fingers crossed this makes a difference.

The mood in the hospital is somber.

Clinical wards are busy, both with COVID patients and others with serious and critical conditions. Will we continue to be able to care for both? I’m not sure. All my team can do is keep working hard, trying to care for patients as though it’s business as usual. I miss touching my patients. I miss seeing family members.

I had time to call a few of my recovering COVID patients today. What hit home is how slow the recovery process can be for some people who were hospitalized. Fatigue, poor appetite and shortness of breath linger. Some describe really vague but abnormal symptoms – changes in the way food tastes and smells and a brain fog that makes concentrating difficult. I think these things will get better but I’m not sure that they will or how long it will take if they do. Many are essential workers, multigenerational home dwellers, international students or their families. I still hope paid sick leave for these patients will become a reality but if it hasn’t happened yet, under these circumstances, maybe it won’t ever happen.

I have a high-risk friend in a high-risk area who’s been eligible to get a vaccine for a week but no appointments were available. At 7 p.m. last night, more slots opened up. I hope she got her spot.

And I hope I wake up tomorrow to a more accessible and equitable system.


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1 Comment
  • Mike Fraumeni says:

    My question is, among many, does watching The Masters and other sporting events with many spectators and other sporting events like the Blue Jays-Rangers opening game before a packed crowd and not seemingly any discussion in some areas of the U.S. with ICUs overcrowded demonstrate the real insular and myopic, perhaps, type of problems with healthcare in the Canadian system that is by and part primarily public based and basically only public based? A question worth pondering I believe. Can a publicly based system compete in this type of environment with “best practices” healthcare? It seems not at least on one level with COVID-19.


Seema Marwaha


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

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