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‘The biggest thing that we’re feeling is fear’: Working on the frontline of the virus pandemic

Last Updated Mar 27, 2020 at 12:03 pm PDT

FILE (iStock Photo)

A doctor working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic says the pressure is mounting on healthcare workers

The frontline healthcare worker says many fear for their own safety as well as the safety of their patients

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Pressure continues to mount on frontline healthcare workers in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Rachel Pinsky is a family physician who works in clinics and ERs south of the Fraser. She says COVID-19 is like nothing they’ve ever dealt with.

“The biggest thing that we’re feeling is fear,” she says. “The doctors, the nurses, any healthcare staff that work at the hospital, we’re really, really scared, not only for our patients, we’re scared for ourselves. We’re scared for our families, and we’re scared for society in general.”

She says it’s like being a firefighter with all their protective gear on and all their training, running into houses but they have no idea which ones are on fire and when they might get burned.

“Because we can’t see COVID-19 so we don’t know where it is, we don’t know how it’s going to attack us,” she tells NEWS 1130.

She says at work, healthcare workers have been instructed to take appropriate measures by wearing protective gear, but as has been reported, nurses, doctors, and other frontline workers are running low on supplies.

“And we’re scared that we’re going to run out of supplies and not be able to protect ourselves and not be able to protect our other patients from COVID-19 because the supplies are running low,” Pinsky says. “We’re using so much of them because we have to treat every single patient like they could have COVID-19.”

Pinsky notes workers have been cautious when it comes to how much they go through, but admits supplies are dwindling regardless.

She points out another frightening fact about COVID-19: it can present as a number of things.

“It can be completely asymptomatic, where you have no idea that you have it, to mild cold, mild cough, mild sore throat, all the way to intubation and death,” she explains. “So that’s one of the really scary things is that there’s really no way to know if you have it.”

Pinsky says she doesn’t have any kids or a spouse, and lives by herself. This would normally make her the perfect candidate to work on the frontlines of a pandemic, but she says on the other hand, her circumstances are unique.

“Because I have two people in my family that are young, in their 20s, and they have low immune systems, they have health issues that mean that if they get COVID-19, they will probably get very sick and potentially die,” Pinsky explains, adding this is just one of the many examples that show the virus isn’t just affecting older people.

“This is a virus that is affecting young people, as well. If my family members get COVID-19, they’ll probably die.”

This is why Pinsky’s made the difficult decision to not see any of her family members, a scenario she describes as very “self-isolating,” meaning she doesn’t have the same support she normally would have during a crisis.

However, she says healthcare workers are supporting each other – in person and online.

The nightly cheers for healthcare workers when the clock hits 7:00 p.m. helps, too.

“That really means a lot to us, it helps brighten our day.”