This is Harsharn. She is a physiotherapist.
“During COVID, our surgical floor was turned into the COVID unit. Patients who would typically be sent to another ward or to rehab stayed with us.
I remember we got a referral for a lady from the ICU who still had tubes and lines in place. When I first saw her, she had no sitting balance so treatment started with teaching her how to sit at the edge of the bed.
Day by day she got stronger and by the end, she was walking independently in her room.
So much of the work for physios depends on that therapeutic relationship and that changes because you’re completely covered up and all the patients can see are your eyes. It was hard for patients to know who was coming into the room because we all just look the same. They can’t see you smile. I’d try to make it a point to gesture more with my hands or make it a point to bring up something they told me during their last session.
A patient from a nursing home and I worked together to a point where we could walk to the window in her room from her bed.
When we got there, I spent a good 10 minutes staring out of the window with her, answering her questions about what was going on.
It was a nice moment that was able to transcend the barrier to human connection our PPE presented.
One important lesson learned during COVID is that it emphasized how important the transdisciplinary approach really is. Before COVID, we were in silos; it was like ‘PTs do this, and this profession does this’, but we started to rely on each other more. One of the doctors who asked for a physio referral was going in to see the patient. So I asked him to do a quick mobility check by asking the patient to stand – this type of collaboration was not as typical prior to COVID.”