No, Premier Ford, the buck stops with me.
Does Doug Ford want us to feel sorry for him? In his most recent apology, the Ontario premier said one of his favourite phrases: the buck stops with me. At this point, Ford sounds like a broken record, using meaningless catchphrases while ignoring experts. Reminding us all of his ultimate responsibility for his actions – or rather inactions – is insulting.
While Ford is responsible for the COVID-19 wildfire ripping through hospitals like mine, he deserves no pity. Because of his inactions, he’s passed the buck on – and he’s passed it squarely to me and my colleagues in GTA hospitals.
I’m the one diagnosing COVID in the emergency room, begging people to go home and sleep on their stomachs to aerate lung tissue spared by the virus. “If you get worse, come back,” I say. “We don’t have room for you here.”
I’m the one reviewing X-ray and CT images, recognizing the only new disease I’ve had to learn since medical school with ease. “That’s COVID,” I say aloud as I stare at the black-and-white snowstorm on the viewer.
I’m the one calling a terrified wife sitting in her car in the parking lot of the hospital to update her: “He’s being admitted to the ICU because he requires a lot of oxygen,” I say, trying to patiently reassure her while reaching for the next chart.
“Everything is COVID now!” says the doc next to me when asked to risk-stratify a COVID swab order. Now we don’t need swabs. If you’re sick, it’s because you have COVID.
I’m the one heading upstairs after my gruelling ER shift to work the ICU overnight. “It’s time,” I say to bed 14, squinting my eyes to convey compassion. “Your sats are too low – the oxygen isn’t enough. I’m going to put you on a ventilator now.”
I’m the one gowning and gloving and masking and goggling and getting six inches away from your face to place a breathing tube. Just before I sedate you, I say, “Don’t worry, I’ll take really good care of you.”
I’m the one holding back tears when you say, “OK, I trust you,” knowing those might be the last words you ever speak.
I’m the one calling your distressed family members saying, “I’ve never had to do this before, but I have to send him to Kingston so we have room here for those coming through the front door.”
Man. Woman. Young. Old. Over and over and over.
Dexamethasone, remdesivir, tocilizumab, ventilation, sedation, pulmonary hygiene, dialysis, echocardiography, blah blah blah. Fourteen years of training and the virus keeps winning, keeps taking control of you and us until you can’t get oxygen into your bloodstream.
I’m the one who says, “We can stop now,” the one who fills out your death certificate, the one who calls your wife one last time to tell her that her greatest fear has occurred under my watch, that the virus beat me and my team.
I’m the one who comes home after working 110 hours in seven days and just starts crying.
I’m crying because when you die of COVID in my ICU, the buck stops with me.