Last week, Dr. Farah Marani stepped out of her locum role as a family physician in East Toronto to answer Michael Garron Hospital’s recruitment call for community physicians to help screen patients at the hospital’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre. And despite the incredible challenges COVID-19 presents, she still sees the good.
She shared a few of her thoughts and observations from the past few days with us.
How did you feel when you first heard about the emergence and spread of COVID-19?
It scared me, especially because people were not taking it seriously at first. I thought we should all be aware that this will eventually come here–the world really is a small place. Canadians had this false sense of security and now we are seeing the consequences. But our community of healthcare providers has been very adept at picking up on the risk and mobilizing on this lull period before things become more dire.
How has MGH’s medical staff been working together to assess patients?
I am so amazed that within a matter of 48 hours, an entire assessment site was put together with a skeleton staff working together tirelessly behind the scenes, despite their personal limitations. It is so organized. We are literally all figuring out flow and systems together, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside. Everyone is humble, and open to listening to suggestions. It’s a very collaborative environment.
From the first day I arrived, staff at MGH welcomed me on board and made me feel part of the team. The staff here–nurses, clerks, physicians – many of us don’t know each other, and we may have had different roles in the past, but everyone is working together seamlessly. We are doing what we can to prepare in this calm before the storm. And it’s not just physicians. The nurses are incredible. They bravely go to the forefront to perform swab testing - they are truly inspiring to me. And there are other people who are doing work behind the scenes. The cleaning staff, the clerks...all of these people deserve our credit and recognition. Staff at Michael Garron Hospital work hard every day to support patient care - it’s very inspiring.
What have you been hearing from patients?
Patients have been, for the most part, very understanding even though they know we don’t have all the answers. Sometimes we get asked some really hard questions, and we have what sounds like a basic response. If we don’t have precise information, know that we debrief these difficult questions, so that we can have an answer the next time.
I really haven’t met too many patients who haven’t been grateful. People are coming in with anxiety and in tears, and despite their flurry of emotions they are still thanking us and appreciate the work that we’re doing. It’s very heartwarming.