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Continuing COVID-19 Conversations

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This is a challenging President’s Message for me to write as I currently have a beloved family member admitted to the hospital for an acute condition. Needless to say, this is a difficult situation on a number of levels and my family is experiencing them directly.

Prior to this pandemic, a hospital stay would be stressful primarily due to the condition itself, its severity, and factors related to resources available for high quality patient care. During this pandemic though, patient care is impacted even more, and my family’s experience today was just one example.

My family member who is currently a patient was required to have a COVID-19 swab today and while the results are pending, no one is permitted to visit. Not only that, but results are expected to take longer than usual given the high volume of COVID-19 tests being processed in Alberta these days. Essentially the means, the hospital staff are required to ask me to leave my family member alone in the hospital during this critical time until further notice. Of course, making this request was not of the staff’s choosing, they currently have no choice. In fact, they described how fatiguing it is to have to tell patients and their families this exact message over and over again since COVID-19 arrived in Alberta.

As a family physician, I understood the reasoning, but I still left reluctantly feeling helpless and dismayed. I know my presence, company, and advocacy is appreciated by my family member and my being unable to stay was upsetting to him. All of the health care workers who I encountered as I proceeded to leave expressed their apologies too. Having to do this did nothing good for anyone’s mental health today. Given the situation though, none of us had any choice.

I had to remind myself though that Albertans do have some choice. COVID-19 is controlling so much of how we practice and administer health care these days, but while I left the hospital today feeling helpless, I also realized that we have the ability to regain control if we make the right choices including vaccinating against COVID-19.

Pandemic aside we know as family physicians, we play a key role in helping patients make informed choices and decisions regarding their well-being. I wonder though, if during this current 4th wave, we are experiencing fatigue when having conversations about COVID-19 vaccines with patients and promoting vaccination, similar to how the hospital staff described their fatigue to me this morning. Would the overall pandemic situation be improved by now if there were no vaccine hesitancy and our patients all made the right choice?

I encourage us all, as Alberta family physicians, to continue to speak up for vaccines, thereby encouraging our patients to make the right choice and vaccinate. The health and well-being of our patients, ourselves, and our health care system as a whole are at stake. This includes my own family as we speak. 

I would like you to know that while my family is experiencing this challenge, our ACFP family has been more than supportive and kind. I would like to thank our ACFP staff and members for their comforting messages, encouragement, and listening ears. (All of that and freezable meals!) We are part of a great organization, and I am proud that we choose to be ACFP members.

Gratefully yours,

Sudha Koppula BSc, MD, MClSc, CCFP, FCFP
Alberta College of Family Physicians

11 Responses to “Continuing COVID-19 Conversations”

  1. Dear Sudha,

    I am so sorry to hear of your beloved family member now in hospital. I will be thinking of you’d your family. May all go well.

    Thank you for all you have been giving, doing, contributing and will continue to do now, during the pandemic.

    I still think of you very fondly.

  2. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family at this difficult time. May he make a speedy and complete recovery

  3. Thank-you for sharing your family’s story. It takes courage not to react with justifiable anger at the situation.
    My sincere wishes for you and those you love during this crisis of health care.

    • Dear Sudha,

      Sincere good wishes for the full recovery of your family member. As colleagues, we understand the pain of leaving a family member alone in sickness, not to mention the worry and concern about outcomes.

      Being an Albertan family physician, I pray for the realization by all living in the Province to work together to overcome the pandemic’s impact. All our healthcare workers trying their utmost. So should the public be responsible for taking every precaution to protect themselves, and others, from the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus. While many will recover fully, some will suffer the ultimate outcome. I urge all, on scientific evidence, to get fully vaccinated before it is too late. This is not alarmist, it protects everyone. In addition, four simple tasks will reduce the risk of any infection, particularly Covid-19.
      1. Wearing a mask properly – surgical ones are proven, not just a piece of cloth. N95s are best.
      2. Social distancing from others outside the family – 1.5 m minimum distance, at all times.
      3. Handwashing with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, preferable to just hand sanitizer which is still effective if thorough.
      4. Avoid direct conversation with another for more than a few minutes. Talking directly for 15 minutes raises the risk of transmitting Covid-19 infection significantly. The Delta variant is especially adept for infection,
      This message must be emphasized to the public to lift ourselves out of the devastating crisis we have, not only in Alberta but globally.

  4. Thanks Sudha for sharing your story. May the outcome for your family member and for your whole family be positive.

  5. As always, Sudha, you are “grace under pressure”. Your comments are so inspiring and strengthening. What a great president you are in these difficult times! Please keep inspiring us. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  6. Dear Sudha, I am sorry to hear about your family member and I can only imagine the anxiety and anguish you must be going through during such an uncertain time. I will remember you and your family in my prayers. May he have a speedy recovery.

  7. Hi Sudha, I am sorry to hear about your family member. Thank you for being so open about this difficult situation about when a Family Physician has a family member who becomes ill. We feel so helpless that we can help our patients usually but are watching on the “sidelines” when it happens to one of our family members (especially during this pandemic). I send my thoughts and prayers for you and your family member.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. May all go well for you and your family member and may this road be as easy as it can be under current conditions.

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