Respiratory therapist Leigh Walters was on the third day of a four-day set at the Royal Jubilee Hospital when she saw a photo of vehicles lined up to get on the ferry.
It was the long weekend, and despite orders to stay home to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many still left town. Walters was disheartened and frustrated after 36 hours on the frontline.
“I’d been dealing all day with the emergency room, worrying about this disease and worrying every time a patient came in the door – like is this it, is this when the surge starts?” she recalled.
|Respiratory therapist Leigh Walters, whose face shows the lines of a long day wearing personal protective equipment, hopes people will continue to take social distancing seriously, even as B.C. begins to flatten the curve. (Courtesy of Leigh Walters)|
Walters posted a photo of herself to Facebook, a tired, glazed-over look in her eyes as she stood at the end of a hospital hallway in blue scrubs and a patterned cap.
“These times of isolation are MOMENTS in a lifetime,” she wrote. “Give your heads a shake. Stop risking my life.”
The post was shared online more than 4,000 times. She didn’t expect such a big response, but she the kept the post up in hopes people would think more about the ‘we’ instead of the ‘me’ during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The ‘me’ approach to COVID is not going to help,” she said. “Right now we’re like one big organism, and if we keep each other at least at arm’s length, there’s less chance of spreading it.”
By the end of April, Walters has been away from her wife and stepchildren for more than six weeks. The news from health officials is positive – B.C. is beginning to flatten the proverbial curve, slowing the transmission of the virus, and provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the province may soon begin to ease some restrictions.
But for health care workers like Walters, that news – while positive – raises new concerns.
“I’m fearful that us doing well is going to create a feeling of safety for people and they’re going to be a little less concerned about social distancing,” she said. “My message would be the exact same as I’m hearing on our update every day: Stay the course.
“Stick it out a bit longer, it’s not going to last forever and let’s not go through a big second wave of this,” she added. “The more people don’t socially distance, the longer this is going to go on.”
Even though times are hard and she misses her family, Walters said she feels grateful she can help during a crisis, and gains strength from the community’s ongoing support.
“I get overwhelmed every time I have the ability to hear that noise at 7 o clock,” she said. “Often I’m at work and I don’t hear it. But when I’m at home and I hear it, it’s a very emotional thing. I can’t tell you how much that support means to everybody.”
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