I was just wondering yesterday, as I was driving out see a customer in the burbs, how the medical profession was dealing with all the changes brought about by COVID.
It’s been a mixed bag really.
On one hand we have people forced to spend their whole shift wrapped in blue plastic, with masks and goggles and gloves, and yet in my short history I never remember them being as appreciated as they are now. The sacrifice in comfort and aesthetics gives them the kudos, but would we recognise them down the street without the hairnets? I doubt it.
Then there is the extra workload. These people work hard. I mean it. The uncertainty of infection means they have to take extra precautions. The mask. The gloves. The cleaning and the social distancing. And days and weeks of long, long hours away from their families.
Even going into the chemist, in some weird way makes me feel sort of nervous. I don’t know why it is. Maybe because I have to dally beside the weight-loss pills while I’m waiting for my prescription. And yell my requests through the thick Perspex screens. Then step to the left so the next person can also share their embarrassing problem with the whole store. Except, nobody is there. Those narrow aisles aren’t good for social distancing, and people are doing their shopping online.
Our local medical centre regularly has random people loitering around outside the building, either waiting to get in for their appointment, or waiting out their 15 minutes post-jab. Everyone looks super-awkward, a bit like strategically-placed garden gnomes from the 70’s. There must be a positive side; at least you don’t have to read the magazines or catch the flu from the old chap who must be hoping his cough will win a prize. (Men do feel sicker – it’s a fact).
Like I say, there are goods and the bads.
Now, more than ever, there is an insatiable demand for healthcare workers. If they are not at testing sites, they are requisitioned to administer vaccines at the pop-up clinics. GP’s now have their hands full with vaccines too. Most doctors I know had a crammed calendar already; how they are going to fit in extra bookings is beyond my comprehension. And who, and how, do they prioritise?
So maybe it’s good for the medical economy. Financially, I mean. Let’s face it, if all of Australia needs to be vaccinated that’s an awful lot of extra appointments. And cold chain work. And administration.
But the big sad, sad question, is the health of our healthcare professionals.
Sure, they may be on a roll financially, they may be getting extra kudos, but will they sustain irredeemable damage to their own health, before they have a chance to reap any benefits?
Will we see the damage in years to come from the trauma and stresses experienced now? COVID Veterans with their own strain of PTSD?
It’s a sobering thought