Reflections of a patient-partner on her experience in this time of pandemic

15 Déc 2020

This essay is part of a series of reflections on primary care during the pandemic presented by Réseau-1 Québec. The original essay published in French on March 26, 2020 is available here >>

Right now, because of my relatively weak immune system I’ve had to stay at home since March 12th!

I could easily cut myself off from everything that’s happening. If I didn’t read the newspaper or listen to the news, I would be in my own little cocoon. But no, I can’t do that, I’m worried about the people around me….

I’m a patient-partner on several committees in my CIUSSS, including the one on infection prevention and control. So I stand with these teams of caregivers and managers, who have been thinking for several years about the possibility of what is now happening to us, hoping all the while that it would never happen. I’m thinking of all the maintenance and disinfection teams who work tirelessly to keep hospitals and CHSLDs in impeccable condition. Their task was already heavy, and they’re being asked to do even more, these people who are our first line of defense against COVID-19.

I’m also the patient co-lead of a research project that, of course, is now on hold. I’ve been able to be a part of teams of nurses and social workers and to see their work up close. I’ve witnessed their dedication, their professionalism, and especially their immense workload. For the past two weeks, they’ve been asked to do even more, to forget themselves and devote all of their attention to a population at risk. They, too, have family, relatives, friends… and the fear of transmitting this virus is surely always on their minds. In spite of everything, they are here for us.

I’m involved in a community organization and see the anxiety of all those who feel isolated, not only physically but psychologically. For many, the health care system helped to overcome this isolation, but now I believe it is our collective responsibility to take care of this vulnerable population.

I also have a family. My spouse works and is in contact with a lot of people. He, too, could get COVID. My child no longer goes to school, no longer works, no longer has a social life; it’s difficult. At 20 years old you’re full of life, you have lots of dreams, but now everything is on hold…. My parents stay at home, they do their duty as good citizens, but if it lasts a long time, it will become difficult for them, as it will be for all these people who feel like hostages in their own homes.

Then there are also all those who show up for all of us. They work in grocery stores, pharmacies, shops, and the food industry. They are police officers, paramedics, daycare workers. They also work in both levels of government. We have a responsibility to protect them. They are essential to our survival.

I’ve decided to do my duty as a human being. Of course, I support all these people who are important to me, but I also act, to the extent that I can.

I’m staying in contact with my parents, my family, my friends. Long live the telephone and the Internet! I’ve taken on a commitment to contact people I don’t know who need to talk, even with someone they don’t know! I take care of my husband, who takes such good care of me!

But most of all, I stay away from other people to protect myself… but especially to protect us all!

I’d like to close with a word of thanks to everyone on the front line:

I want to thank you all for everything you’re doing for us, users of the health care system. It’s a difficult situation for you. You’re being asked to devote yourselves to us… Please keep some time and energy for yourselves and your families. That’s important, too! Take care of yourselves, not just of us. See you soon, I hope!

Marie-Dominique Poirier, Patient-partner, member of Réseau-1 Québec

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