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“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” –Aristotle

April Messenger 2020, Council, COVID-19 | Posted April 9, 2020

As Alberta navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear as a profession there are certain factors beyond our control.

How many Albertans will be infected?

How many Albertans will be hospitalized?

How many Albertans will die?

It is sobering for many of us to realize that we may have little impact on these outcomes. I am scared. Scared for my patients, scared for myself and especially scared for my family.

As a nephrologist and internist, it is terrifying to realize that not only will I be looking after those patients ill enough from COVID-19 to require hospitalization, but will continue to be responsible for caring for patients with renal disease, CHF, COPD, infections and malignancies, to name a few, just like I would any other April and May.

Like you, I am inundated with emails from different stakeholders, all detailing their contingency plans but, ultimately, not knowing how bad it will get. Although, at times I am overwhelmed with the information, I am at least comforted that people are trying to anticipate and develop strategies to deal with the upcoming surge.

As a husband and father to four children, I am afraid that when I go to work I may bring home COVID-19 to all of them. I am afraid that, if symptomatic, I will have to self-isolate in our basement-so near yet so far from those that I love. I am afraid that I could be one of the unlucky ones who will not be around to look after my family.

I am afraid, but like you, I am a physician and a professional. Like you, I will confront my fears as I leave my house and head into the hospital. I will take all reasonable precautions to protect myself but also care for my patients. I will do my best to manage patients and be a steward of resources in our healthcare system. There are going to be challenges. Difficult decisions will have to be made and uncomfortable conversations are going to be had with patients and families.

At the risk of getting in trouble with our Registrar, I have never been all that enthused with CANMEDS. However, in this time of uncertainty, we will be afforded an opportunity to model professionalism. Physicians will be closely observed by their patients, other healthcare professionals and their colleagues. How a physician deals with stress, shows compassion and empathy and finds the courage to make tough decisions will be emulated. Recognizing that guidelines are changing, when a respected physician is observed wearing the recommended personal protection equipment, we will be reassured that if it is good enough for her, we can model the same behaviour. In the near future, I suspect there will be little time for discussions, so our actions will be what speak for us.

I am scared, but I am ready.

Now is the time when we jump into the chaos to assist our patients. We will all do our best to protect ourselves and we will exemplify what it means to be a professional. I am fortunate, not only do I have the love and support of my immediate family, I am comforted knowing that I will have the mutual support of over 11,000 dedicated colleagues. Stay focused, stay committed and stay safe.

Dr. John Bradley
CPSA Council President

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