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Our collective COVID-19 experience
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Just over a year ago, our lives changed in a way we couldn’t have imagined. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Even before that day, governments and health care officials were anxiously following the latest updates as the virus spread around the globe. In late January, the first cases of the novel-coronavirus were confirmed in Canada. What followed next we are all intimately familiar with. However, one year later there is light at the end of this tunnel and I hope that we will come out of this global pandemic stronger than we entered it.
“Though we were separated physically, I believe we’ve actually never been more connected as people having gone through this common experience.”
You don’t know what you’re made of until you’re tested, and oh-boy have we been tested. The incredible challenges faced by health care workers, not least of whom employees supporting residents in long term care, have been well-documented. The isolation and loss for families has been agonizing; loss of time with loved ones and, of course, loss of life as well. I lost my uncle during the height of the first wave of COVID-19, and it was heartbreaking being unable to gather with my family to memorialize him and mourn together. I truly empathize with the thousands of families who have been impacted by COVID-19 and my heart aches for each of you.

In spite of the tragedy of COVID, however, there is reason to be positive. We should rejoice that the human spirit of the thousands of heroic angels on the frontlines was never broken. As I said above, we were tested in unimaginable ways, and I’m so thankful that we were able to come together to support and lift each other up. If anything positive can be taken from this pandemic, it’s that we have been shown just how connected we all are, and how important those connections are.

From the early days of the first wave, people found ways to come together. We banged pots out our windows, dropped off meals at hospitals, paraded by long term care homes that had an outbreak of the virus to show solidarity in our collective struggle and show that we are all in this together. Through Zoom calls and other virtual gatherings, we maintained our connections. We laughed, cried and plotted our first actions when the pandemic ends. Though we were separated physically, I believe we’ve actually never been more connected as people having gone through this common experience.

So, what’s next? We know that vaccines are making their way to people, which is a remarkable feat of science, ingenuity and global cooperation. Now is the time when we must decide what the legacy of this pandemic will be. It’s my greatest fear that after having gone through this life-changing ordeal we will go back to the way things were without reflecting on new possibilities for a brighter future. How sad would it be if we go back to taking things for granted, like a simple hug, laughing together, or basic human connections? It’s my hope that we won’t lose sight of the things that are most important in our lives and resolve to be better friends, family members and global citizens.

I look forward to seeing people in person again, but until then we can’t be distracted from the fight that remains in front of us. Please continue to wash your hands, wear your mask, watch your distance and, when your turn comes, get your vaccine.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.