By Yvonne Sam
Around the world, people have been cheering for those on the front-lines, and as a retired, qualified, healthcare worker, I am moved to tears, each time I see a video etc. of people stepping outside to cheer for healthcare workers.
Doctors and nurses have been invoked as heroes on the frontline, and have been, by far, the faces seen on nightly news videos, or the voices quoted in newspaper articles. Do not get me wrong, every person, who clocks in or signs in at a hospital or healthcare institution, right now, deserves every ounce of that applause.
But, amidst all the cheers and applause, let us not forget that not all heroes and heroines wear scrubs.
There are essential individuals, who are also not staying home and are in-line, around the clock, keeping the frontline foremost, and have been left in the shadow, barely registering, if at all, in media and official reports.
Yes, invisible to the world, outside of hospital doors, completely out of the spotlight, nevertheless involved in patient care and making it possible for hospitals’ ecosystems to function properly with minimal mention, are the nursing assistants, orderlies, préposés aux bénéficiaires, cleaners, unit clerks, laundry workers, porters, administrative support staff, sterile supply workers, mortuary attendants, dieticians etc.
While not directly out front, nevertheless, the truth be told, they certainly bear the brunt. They are also in the fight, hence it is equally important that on them, is shone some light.
Preparation of the deceased for transferral to the morgue, in addition to sterilization/sanitization of the respirator and clearing of the room, with no trace of the person or the virus that took his/her life, has to be hurriedly done, due to the rapidly increasing admission rate and rising death toll.
Unfailingly, they respond to each and every call, with their lives on the line, while giving their all. Success on the front-line is, in part, greatly due to their collective and collaborative effort.
For the record, please note that the title of “Nurse” is bestowed only upon members accepted into the professional Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (Order of Nurses of Quebec). www.designations.ca/item/nurse-quebec-oiiq/
Sadly, while there have been cheers for some frontliners, some tears and fears have been the fate of others.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which began in the city of Wuhan, Hebei, China, on December 21, 2019, has led to an increase in acts and displays of anti-Chinese sentiment (Sinophobia) towards people of Asian descent, including Asian nurses. The global, rapid spread of the virus, the overwhelming majority in China, unleashed a wave of panic and, in some cases, outright anti-Chinese sentiment, across the globe.
In April 2020, there were reports of Inuit people being harassed and mistaken as Asians in Montreal. They were spat on and told to “go back to China” or “home country”. www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/inuit-getting-caught-up-in-anti-asian-hate-crimes-in-montreal-advocates-say/.
The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and Head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Theresa Tam, expressed her concern. Originally from Hong Kong, she tweeted: “I am concerned about the growing number of reports of racism and stigmatizing comments on social media, directed to people of Chinese and Asian descent, related to 2019-nCoV coronavirus. www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canada-s-top-doctor-calls-out-racism-and-stigmatizing-comments-over-coronavirus-1.4790762
The current pandemic ushered in a new phrase — “We are all in this together.” Let’s be reminded that there are many others in the background, ensuring proper maintenance of the front-line.
This being said, then the front-line should be well delineated and the contribution of all workers appreciated. We are stronger, when we value everyone’s contributions to this devastating pandemic.
Aleuta — the struggle continues.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Public Relations Officer of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.