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The COVID 19 pandemic piqued my interrogation of the balance of staff safety and duty of care to imperilled communities.
Front line clinicians fear for themselves and their families. Despite our valorization by communities, I as a frontline emergency specialist have noticed a surge in absenteeism among well nursing staff that claim “mental health days off” to avoid catching corona and spreading it their kids. Their defence of fraudulently claimed sick paid leave is not risking passing on the corona-contagion to young children when they return from school or day care (they remain open in Australia).
One commented that as non-parent, I should take up additional burden of COVID19 health care presentations. This increases the number of my daily encounters with, and the cross-infection risk posed by, patients being screened or treated for corona. Without the nurse, I now take every throat swabs as the patient coughs or gags. There are no hospital contingency plan to make up for unplanned shortfalls in clinical staff. “No kids at home sacrificed” clinicians should not be subjected to the acute stresses, physical and psychological toll exacted by having to compensate for our well colleagues that refuse to turn up for work.
How do you cope if an epidemic disrupted daily life, closing schools, packing hospitals, and putting social gatherings, sporting events and concerts, conferences, festivals and travel plans on indefinite hold? As a frontline doctor, stayi...
How do you cope if an epidemic disrupted daily life, closing schools, packing hospitals, and putting social gatherings, sporting events and concerts, conferences, festivals and travel plans on indefinite hold? As a frontline doctor, staying healthily uninfected whilst we strive for containment remains a cause for celebration.
Albert Camus’ The Plague is balm to the fear-riven tear in the fabric of global society. Just as the decimated inhabitants of Shakespeare’s London outlasted the plaque, without modern medicine and public health interventions, the burgeoning coro-demic is but one of Camus' "many plagues in history…yet plagues and wars (still) take people equally by surprise.“ Camus’ contagion will surely go “unaccountably” when it pleases, the sooner if communities adjust and adhere to “bewildering portents” with care and caution to the lives of others. Camus urges the social distancing and lock-downs that today will mitigate the coro-disruption’s festering tenacity, and encourages that the pandemic threat is not fated to last forever.
As we face the rigours of self-isolation, the consumptive poet -doctor John Keats, exiled in the Bay of Naples as typhus raged, reminds the reader of life coming to a premature stop. The threat of cross-infection in my daily patient encounters incites Keat’s “mortality weigh(ing) heavily on me like unwilling sleep,” yet there is consolation in being “half in love with easeful death.” We should all salute the unsung scores of imperilled, some now dead, doctors and nurses that have risen to the occasion.
Joseph Ting, MBBS MSc (Lond) BMedSc PGDipEpi DipLSTHM FACEM.
Adjunct associate professor, School of Public Health and Social Work
O Block, Room O-D610
Victoria Park Road
Kelvin Grove, Brisbane QLD 4059
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane