LETTER: Health care workers are the unsung heroes of pandemic response

It’s not only doctors and nurses, says Dr. Kevin McKechnie

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As the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to give up old routines for new, it has become a part of our family’s daily routine to gather on our front porch every evening at 7 p.m., in order to join in the neighbourhood chorus of clapping and pot-banging. This phenomenon, undertaken as a means of acknowledging our community’s healthcare workers, and the good work they are doing, has been picking up volume and momentum with every passing day.

It is a touching and meaningful gesture, which, as a local physician, I very much appreciate. Indeed, the community of doctors, nurses, and other front-line healthcare workers that I am fortunate enough to work alongside deserve the public shout-out. That said, for every doctor and nurse being showered with praise for his/her efforts in this current pandemic, there are many, many other less-recognized individuals working in our hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities who are every bit as deserving of the plaudits.

The list of these individuals is too long to exhaustively inventory, but includes: housekeepers, cleaning staff, unit clerks, security personnel, medical office assistants, office/switchboard operators, clinic managers, laundry workers, plant service/maintenance workers, food service workers, physiotherapists, social workers, respiratory techs, lab techs, occupational therapists, dieticians, drivers, ambulance staff, divisions and shared care staff, medical imaging techs, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, auxiliary volunteers, payroll clerks, medical record keepers, administration staff, transcriptionists, etc.

It is these individuals, and the many others I’ve neglected to include on this list (with apologies) who are the unsung heroes of our current pandemic response. They are the ones, working out of the limelight, whose efforts allow the good work being done by our medical community to continue moving forward smoothly. Let’s be sure to acknowledge them, along with more visible frontline workers, when we gather to clap our hands.

So, when I step onto our front porch tonight with my family, I will pause briefly to drink in some thanks from my pot-banging neighbours. But I will not pause long, in order that I can join the chorus of gratitude being expressed to the many individuals, unsung or otherwise, working tirelessly towards making our community safe.

One final thought: while we continue to adhere to social distancing recommendations outside our homes, let’s double down on hugs and quality time with those we love living inside our homes. It’s the best medicine we’ve got.

Dr. Kevin McKechnie

Nelson

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