Heather Ellis is a purchasing clerk at Dr. F.H. Wigmore Hospital in Moose Jaw
By Heather Ellis
My COVID-19 story is very different from all the others I have read. When the pandemic was first declared, my daily life did not change much. I have always been an introvert, so the restrictions barely affected me and because of the work I do, I could not work from home.
But I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster. I think I was in denial first, thinking COVID-19 was not as bad as it sounds. Then came the fear and anxiety and stress associated with a pandemic. Everyone has someone they worry about and I am no different. There is constant worry and fear.
I worry about bringing COVID home from work to my husband, who has two chronic diseases.
I worry about my son in Edmonton and my daughter and grandchildren in Calgary. I so much want to see them.
I worry about my son and his partner and my two stepsons in Moose Jaw, and miss our family suppers.
I worry about my mother-in-law in a nursing home.
I also worry that if I catch it, I will take it to work. It would forever haunt me if I cause someone else to get sick or if the department I work in had an outbreak because of me and there were no staff to work.
I work at the hospital in Moose Jaw, but not on the front lines. I work in an office as a purchasing clerk. As part of the Materials Management department, our job is to order, receive and deliver all the products used in our part of the province. Those products include everything from toilet paper to cleaning supplies to every kind of bandage you can think of, as well as office supplies, equipment like beds or desks, operating room instruments, plates and screws for broken bones, incontinence supplies for long term care facilities and, of high importance, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
On top of all the worry and fear I have, there is also the added stress of the increased work load because of the pandemic. We are constantly monitoring the inventory to make sure we have enough PPE. We are ordering extra supplies just in case there is a surge. On top of all that, we still have to make sure that all our regular supplies are still available because the hospitals and clinics and long term care facilities are still open.
There have been days where I go to work and just sit and stare at my desk and wonder where to begin. It gets so overwhelming. Having great co-workers has helped me through those days. If you, like me, go home mentally exhausted, I urge you to talk to someone – your coworkers, your spouse, or use some of the resources we have available to SHA staff.
Don’t keep it all bottled up inside.
For me, the best advice I’ve received is to trust the system, and most of the time I can. Sometimes, I have to admit, I don’t understand the reasoning behind some of the decisions made, but I have learned to trust that those making the decisions have more information than I do.
I do like my job but there have been days where I didn’t want to know some of the things that we ordered.
I don’t want to know the number of cots we have for the field hospitals in case they are needed.
I definitely don’t want to know the number of body bags we have available in case of a surge.
After spending a quiet Christmas with just my husband, I am worried about how many people didn’t follow the restrictions for gatherings at Christmas, and who won’t follow them for New Year’s Eve.
I am scared to look at the numbers every day, but I do because I need to know to plan accordingly and order what is needed.
I am scared to see the numbers in two weeks.
To the people of Saskatchewan, all I can say is
please, please follow the rules, please wash your hands, please wear a mask, please socially distance, please follow the restrictions. Please take care of one another and please do your part.
I really don’t want to see more body bags ordered.