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Frontline Worker experience during COVID-19

By Shelly Malini Dowlatram, Scarborough Health Network

When the first case of COVID-19 came to Scarborough Health Network and visitors could no longer support their family members at the hospital, it really broke my heart. Though an understandable policy for the safety of my colleagues and I, it is truly such a joy to see patients with their loved ones. I also believe interactions that patients, families and visitors have with staff are a very important part of the experience at our hospitals.

The pandemic changed so much about working at SHN. We had to go through intensive screening when we arrived at work. We had to wear our PPE on a daily basis and still do. We have to be more aware of situations involving potential cases at the hospital. The one positive thing I could find solace in was the commute to and from work – with our community largely in isolation as part of protective public health measures, I was able to get to the hospital to see my patients in less than 10 mins.  

As an essential worker, I feel that our job is an everyday challenge, but it’s also a learning process as well. A lot of people have looked at us differently now, for better and for worse. Though many have called us heroes, there are plenty of people who are more scared and worried knowing that we work in a hospital setting – I myself have many family members and friends don’t want to meet because they are worried for their safety.  

I have never felt scared of the pandemic but I am more aware of the situation and how to deal with the virus if I were ever faced with it. For me, going to work is a joy – it gives me the opportunity to give back what I know, while learning every day and showing love and care for the patients on my unit. I know that SHN will always protect my well-being and give me the guidance that I need to achieve my goals as an employee. 

This pandemic has also taught me that having a family unit is the key to your daily living. I am from a West Indian background and we love to celebrate our culture in any sort of way possible. When the pandemic hit, social life changed for everyone. All our celebrations with family and friends as a group, and even certain religious events, were cancelled. Birthdays and weddings could no longer take place while enjoying dinner with old friends didn’t happen. I will forever feel blessed for my parents, daughter and sister who stood by my side and let me know that it will get better. We will all be united soon once everything is safe and sound. 

But one thing for sure – when things got worse, SHN was right there to provide us with the best support and encouragement. I am proud to work for a Scarborough hospital where our safety come first and where we are empowered to deliver excellent patient care.

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