Sometimes I think.
Sometimes I think and nothing happens. That seems to happen a lot during this period of the second wave of COVID-19 that has hit my hospital. Netcare Kingsway Hospital is a community private hospital and has been overwhelmed in caring for patients with COVID-19.
Sometimes I think and something happens. That’s when a story takes shape, and I wonder how I will tie it together to make it work.
Sometimes I think about the pandemic. I focus on the problems we face and work out solutions. I reflect on all we have done. I reflect on what we have learned. Although we were all tired after the first wave, at least for the second wave we had systems in place. Systems to protect staff with PPE, systems to control patients and systems’ flow to deals with patients waiting outside and waiting for an ICU bed.
Sometimes I think that it is affecting everyone. It is affecting every nation. Uniting some and dividing others.
Sometimes I think that it is not only about the nurses and doctors and first responders. It is about the cleaners and security staff, about the porters and the kitchen staff. About the switchboard operator and the admission clerks. They are the ones that make up the scaffolding from which the nurses and doctors flesh out their caring and compassion. Without them risking close contact with sick patients health care workers could not do what they have had to do.
Sometimes I think about the undertakers I see moving around the hospital. Death certificates in hand if they are lucky, otherwise their unfazed search for the source of that important document. I have seen families cry as a body has been transferred to the undertaker’s van. It was eerie to see a full-length leg prosthesis pushed like a spare part above one body.
Sometimes I think about all of these people. I just have not written about them. Now I will write about them.
It may look like it’s only sometimes that I think about them. But today, I walked out of my office holding a tray of doughnuts. A patient brought them yesterday to celebrate his birthday with us. I didn’t save his life. I am just an orthopedic surgeon. I only fix bones, as my clever anesthesiologist insists. I was grateful my patient thought of us, but I never got round to having the doughnut.
Sometimes I think clearly. This time I took the doughnuts to the security guard that directs people in crisis to the back of the hospital for them to be triaged. He remains calm and polite and cares as much as any nurse or doctor. I know that because I see him every day he comes on duty. I wave as I drive in, and he salutes me.
Sometimes I wish I could do more for them. The doughnuts for the security guard were a start.
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