Dr. Susan Shaw is the Chief Medical Officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
I want to speak
not as the Chief Medical Officer, but as a critical care physician. As part of my work, I continue to take shifts in the ICUs in Saskatoon. As part of this work, I also spend time in our emergency rooms and our wards. I see what this virus is doing on our front lines.
I see how tired staff are with having to manage the pressures that come with this virus. But they come to work.
I see the families of those who have been admitted to our ICU with COVID. They sit bedside with their loved ones, all of them suffering. Some of them dying. And they may never be truly face-to-face with each other ever again, because they need to wear masks. They do so, because it’s the right thing to do.
And that, to me, makes putting one on when you go to the grocery store seem not so hard.
Last March, I wrote an editorial in the newspaper committing to the public that our health system would be there for you, if you can be there for us. That is still our commitment.
But I worry now more than ever about our collective commitment to keeping our health system from being overwhelmed. I worry when I hear every week that our contact tracers are facing verbal abuse from some of the members of the public that they deal with. That to me is unacceptable, especially toward people who are working so hard to help fight this virus.
They say that people are experiencing “COVID fatigue," and this is why people are becoming more relaxed about following guidelines, measures and restrictions. I’m tired, too.
Our physicians and staff are also tired. And yet they come to work to make sure the system is there for you when you need it. Whether it is due to a heart attack, a stroke, a diagnosis of cancer or COVID.
And increasingly these days, we come to work to see more and more patients that are suffering with COVID. Increasingly these days, we are forced to limit families and visitors into our buildings to reduce risk of sickness and death. And in the days ahead, I and my colleagues will have to tell more families that their loved one isn’t going to make it.
Compared to that, I believe what we’re asking of the public isn’t so hard. When people come to the hospital they often beg us to do everything you can, and
now we are begging you in return.
Do everything you can. Limit your bubble as small as possible, wash your hands regularly, comply with all the public health orders and please put on a mask whenever you’re in a public indoor space.
Putting a mask on is not a political statement. It’s a scientific one. And it’s a statement of love.
If you’re not willing to do it when it’s recommended, then I invite you to trade places or join me for those conversations with family members whose loved ones are so sick of COVID and are at risk or are dying. I assure you, that conversation is much more difficult than wearing a mask.
So please put on a mask. Follow the measures. And we need you to do your part to protect those who are most vulnerable and to ensure our system is always there for you when you need it. Thank you.