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The Face of COVID-19

COVID-19 is intangible. We listen to the stats every day and, yet, somehow, it’s hard to grasp what it all means. This virus is invisible, and because it can’t be seen, and the number of cases have, thankfully, remained low in our region, we can feel detached and somewhat removed from this pandemic.

But for me COVID-19 is very real and it’s personal. My dad is in long term care in Calgary. The facility where he lives declared a COVID-19 outbreak on April 8th. There have been 26 residents that have contracted the disease and 16 staff. 7 residents have recovered (amazing!) and, sadly, the same number of residents, have passed away. All of a sudden, COVID is real and the people behind those numbers come with families like mine.

My dad’s care and safety are in the hands of others. My family and I depend on the care team around him to keep him healthy. His welfare is in the back of my mind every second and I cannot hear the news without thinking, hoping and praying for the man who has been such a source of strength for me and who is now so dependent and fragile.

How do I explain the vulnerability, gratitude, fear, confidence, hope and worry that are with me constantly? It’s a roller coaster of thoughts and feelings that have been with me for weeks. I have had to let go of those things that are out of my control, focus on the positive and not lose hope. I have to be honest…it hasn’t been easy.

Still, I am grateful, because I know those around my dad are fighting hard every day to do everything they possibly can to keep him safe. They have dealt with a very difficult and stressful situation by putting in place aggressive protocols before being mandated to do so and by advocating for their residents. The management has been incredibly open and transparent and have communicated with families honestly and compassionately.

I extend my thanks to staff working in long term care and seniors facilities. The burden of this pandemic has fallen on your shoulders. While COVID-19 is intangible you have supplied a real and tangible lifeline to my dad. I look forward to the day when I can sit beside him again, touch his hand and kiss his cheek. Until then I will rely on you to be my voice, my ears, my hands and my heart.

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