April 2020


Cataract Editor speaks on unprecedented times

by Rosa Braga-Mele, MD, FRCSC Cataract Editor

In Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives almost overnight. We went from “normal” to social distancing, self-isolation, and essential services only within less than a week period.
This pandemic doesn’t scare me as a doctor. The panic that it has instilled concerns me, but as a doctor, I feel the need to help wherever I am most useful. I think it is how we all feel as healthcare workers. As ophthalmologists (and in fact, all physicians), we were asked to cancel all elective surgeries and elective patients since March 17, 2020. Our office remained open for emergency or urgent patients only, and we generally called any patient that had an urgent concern to see if we could triage over the phone, rather than bring them in and risk exposure. I was concerned that my patients would be upset about the cancellations, but in fact they were grateful that we were taking precautions. It is actually quite nice to talk to my patients on the phone and see how they are doing, and they are very grateful for the interaction and concern. I see my ophthalmology colleagues helping with PPE shortages, starting online chat groups about the pandemic and how to manage patients and offices, and caring for the health of one another. Resources like ASCRS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have helped us stay in the loop with COVID-19 updates and educational reviews.
As a person with inflammatory arthritis and chronic asthma, I am a bit more cognizant and concerned. I am immunocompromised but generally very healthy, so it is on my radar, and I will monitor my symptoms. I still plan to help as much as I can as a physician.
As a parent of three boys ages 22, 20, and 12, I am proud, and I am scared for them. They have all taken to doing their schoolwork online and created their own online study groups to get them through the end of the school year. They are very cognizant of social distancing. But I am scared that as a healthcare worker seeing patients that I am putting them at higher risk than necessary. God forbid they get sick.
However, no matter how you look at it or how it affects you, the world has changed because of it. I look around me and see a different world with a truly unique moment to make a positive change. We have banded together as human beings in every aspect of life. We are all working together to stay strong mentally and physically. We are all trying to make a positive impact, if that is on the front line or as an essential worker, in your office seeing urgent patients so that the ER won’t be overloaded, or staying at home and playing your part by minimizing your risk of getting the virus or spreading the disease.
This is a difficult time for all of us, but we all play a part, and together we will all get through this. I hope we never forget and continue to move forward with more compassion and care for each other. I wish everyone the best in health.

Cataract Editor speaks on unprecedented times Cataract Editor speaks on unprecedented times
Ophthalmology News - EyeWorld Magazine
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