It was only last year when the pandemic “lock down” first began that those who worked in health care were considered heroes. They were revered and admired for the personal sacrifices they chose to make in order to keep the rest of society as safe as possible. Regrettably, a few of these brave and selfless workers made the ultimate sacrifice, as they lost their lives as a result of contacting COVID-19 in the line of duty.
However, looking at the world around me today it seems that with each new phase of the government’s pandemic plan we enter, the sacrifices and dedication of these courageous individuals are being forgotten. Those we once considered heroic are no longer seen as such and are often the recipients of our frustration with the new “norm”.
During the pandemic, my mother was admitted to the hospital and due to the COVID-19 safeguards, we were not able to visit her while she there. This was difficult but given the current situation it was understandable. However, when I was at the emergency department area delivering some personal items to be taken to my mother, I witnessed a disturbing encounter a nurse had with a couple who were behind me in line.
The man and his wife came into the ER triage area and immediately started speaking to the nurse in a terse and disrespectful manner. The man commented to the nurse that,
“it was about time she decided to return back to work”. The nurse remained calm and tried to explain that she had been on a break, but the man did not appear to care. He then proceeded to state in a loud voice that he was there for an MRI and did not like that he had to wait. The man’s wife then became verbally abusive towards the nurse when she informed her that as per COVID-19 safety protocol, she was not able to accompany her husband the MRI area. This abusive behaviour truly surprised me and since I knew that the nurse was limited in her ability to respond, I spoke up and told the couple that they were being unnecessarily rude. After they left, I spoke to the hospital security staff and he stated that this sort of behaviour has become the norm. I stood there in shock and started wondering when the pendulum shifted from just a few short months ago when health care workers were revered, to now being the recipients of our frustrations.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to the pandemic, but if you let it overtake your life, it will take a toll on your personal well-being. Before you overreact to a situation, take a deep breath, and focus on what you can control, such as your behaviour. Recognize that change is difficult for most people but remember that you are not alone. We all in this together and one of the best coping mechanisms is to treat each other with respect and kindness.