COVID-19, also called SARS-CoV2 or coronavirus, is a highly contagious rapidly spreading respiratory virus that infects and attacks the host. It causes flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, general myalgia, and more severely, respiratory distress, pneumonia, and death. People can be asymptomatic for 14 days or even longer but can still transmit it to others, which makes it difficult to detect and control the transmission.
In an effort to slow the transmission, the Province of Ontario, much of Canada, and other parts of the world have enforced States of Emergency, shut down their borders and enacted curfews. What does this mean for us? It’s life as usual as frontline health care providers. We go to work and perform our tasks to the best of our abilities. However, our work expectations have changed. There is a shortage of staff and the needs have increased. Many doctors and nurses are asked to come out of retirement and rejoin the workforce while allied health professionals like Spiritual Care Practitioners (SCPs) are asked to work longer hours and more days.
How do we help during this time?
Bavly is a Spiritual Care Practitioner and Registered Psychotherapist. His role is to support patients, their families and the staff with spiritual and religious counseling as well as provide Psychotherapy as needed. His role is to provide support, uplift morale and engender community in the health care approach. Bavly’s Coptic roots motivated him to become a Spiritual Care Practitioner. The focus on helping, listening, and supporting others is something that he took to heart growing up in a Coptic household. It helped shape him and shape his career as it continues to unfold.
As ICU RNs, Sathiya and her colleagues direct care of patients who are often critically-ill while helping families make sense and navigate this scary moment in their lives. Our team members are directly responsible for the patients in our direct care and those requiring immediate attention throughout the hospital. This care is provided by doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and PSWs. In addition, we have allied health professionals such as pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, spiritual care practitioners, cleaning personnel, and many more who are an essential part of how a hospital functions for a patient and their family.
We are the front-line. We manage the needs of patients amid this scary virus. We also treat every case normally admitted to hospital – flu, pneumonia, heart attacks, respiratory arrests, anaphylaxis, strokes, etc. As front-line hospital staff we don’t get a break during a pandemic. We don’t stay home and keep ourselves and our families safe. We go to work to protect the sick and the healthy.
Why do we do what we do?
Our sense of community and commitment to it is what keeps us going as healthcare providers. We receive conflicting information between different levels within our hospital as well as the government. In these moments, we have more questions about policies and procedures than answers. Despite this, we always remember why we do what we do: it is the love we have that drives us to help others during their moments of crisis and vulnerability.
How can you help?
Stay home. People have been caught up with the social distancing and many have not been practicing it diligently. We implore members of the public to stay home to curb the spread of this virus. Healthcare workers are short on personal protective equipments, medications, and other necessities needed to treat people. When people stay home and help curb the curve, we can go to work and help those who are already sick and need all the help.
Social distancing does not mean living apart from others. It means living apart from one’s selfish desires. Social distancing is not about isolation, but about physical distancing. Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others. It means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other. This is a time to connect with people and to stay in touch with loved ones through technology. Social distancing is an act of love that protects yourself and others. We know that asking people to physically isolate is very different from how we have lived our lives and can feel traumatic. We totally agree. We yearn for social connections. It is in these moments where we are asking everyone to dig deep and find your inner strengths and resilience to fight for yourselves and your communities. Ontario and much of Canada is made of Indigenous peoples and generations of immigrants who have been at one time or another affected by persecution, genocide, ethnic cleansing, war, or poverty. We all bear a history of searching and hoping for a better quality of life. Now, Canada and the rest of the world is under attack. There is nowhere to flee but we can still hope and still fight. This fight asks you to stay in your homes, connect with yourself and your families.
The number of new COVID-19 cases is climbing. We have thousands of positive cases in Canada. Quebec and Ontario have some of the highest figures. Health care workers and our allies go to work to help you, our community, get healthy and we are pleading with you to stay home.
The way you can help us and save our lives is to stay home, socially isolate and distance yourselves from others. Stop the virus from spreading. It passes from person to person in your workplaces, neighbourhoods, grocery stores, parks, and gatherings at people’s homes. Minimize your exposure. Stay home. Keep everyone safe.
How do we all come together?
As a community of healthcare workers we are ready to do all that we can to continue maintaining and protecting our global community. Storytelling has been at the heart of humanity’s existence and it serves our basic needs: passing traditions, confessing our failings, healing wounds, engendering hope, and strengthening our community. As we maintain our community in the hospital, we urge you to continue to keep safe and practice extra care. It will take a global community to overcome this virus.
We are critical care professionals and we have skills that are not easily replaced. We fight for appropriate PPEs (personal protective equipment), clarity and accurate information on COVID-19, clear policies and procedures, and we plead with you, our fellow community members, to stay home.
We all do what we are asked to do. We do it in the best way we can, no matter how difficult and mentally exhausting it becomes. We go to work. You stay home and stop yourself from getting sick. Stop the spread of the virus. Protect your family, friends and our healthcare system. Let’s respect and love one another. Let’s come together despite the distance for all the vulnerable people in our community. Let’s want only what is best for ourselves and our neighbours. By the end we will never know if we overreacted, but God knows we will find out if we under-reacted.
We encourage everyone to exercise caution, social distancing, cough etiquette and self-isolation as needed. The CCHP is always looking for people to contribute to our digital initiatives. Please contact theCCHP@gmail.com if you would like to support the Project.
Bavly Kost, MA, MPS, RP, is a Spiritual Care Practitioner and Registered Psychotherapist. He works as a Spiritual Care Practitioner for the Scarborough Health Network in Toronto, Canada.
Sathiya Siva, BScN, RN, is a Critical Care Nurse at Scarborough Health Network in Toronto, Canada.