As an emergency physician, wife, and mother, early in the pandemic I felt an overwhelming sense of uncertainty and apprehension. My husband, also an emergency physician, and I struggled to find the balance between protecting our children, staying safe, and planning for the worst-case scenario at work. It was through my camera lens that I was able to slow down and observe the shared human experience of the pandemic: tragedy and vulnerability; kindness and compassion; laughter and tears; teamwork and resilience. I have captured images that are simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming and that show the paradox of caring for people during times of tragedy. Through this project, I have reconnected with the purpose and privilege of being a physician and I moved to a place of optimism and pride for how we are providing care for those in our community.
We are now facing the fourth wave of COVID in Alberta. Our hospitals are overwhelmed and vaccination has become a political and personal issue for many. About 80 per cent of patients admitted to hospital are unvaccinated. Moral injury and injustice are causing an exacerbation of the already significant burnout in health-care workers. During this time, I hope that my images continue to tell the authentic story of our COVID-19 experiences, but also highlight moments of kindness, compassion, resilience, and teamwork.
A fourth wave
Alberta is under the strain of the fourth wave of COVID-19. With cases per capita over four times the national average, ICUs are full and consideration is being given to flying critical care patients to different provinces. Critical triage implementation training has been done for health-care teams. A common sight, two patients per room in the Intensive Care Unit, is stretching nursing to capacity, once again.