The seven days that Netcare Kingsway Hospital was closed completely became a long week.
There were moments of self-doubt. Finding calm in the moments that made up the closure of our community hospital was difficult.
I was paralyzed during the week my hospital was closed. I limited my news intake, and as I don’t use social media, I was spared the barrage of funny videos, false news and frustrated outbursts that we all experience under lockdown. My paralysis left me unable to read documents that were important to the functioning of a hospital, and further, the functioning of an orthopedic surgeon in a hospital. No hospital, no function: paralysis.
It was late Friday night that I heard that we were allowed to open. The weekend would be taken up by dusting off everything and ensuring that all the things that are vital to a hospitals functioning were working. This meant checking things like oxygen, air, vacuum (for suction) and back-up generators were all working.
Then we had to meet to train. We had to appoint new key players in new departments that make up the new normal of working in a hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.
So after a week of mental paralysis how do you focus when you seem to be starting in the beginning again?
My mind races and there are many answers to the many questions. The answers that ground me are not technical. They are the emotions that will enrich us: empathy, gratitude and answering the question why for this period.
Firstly we need to have empathy, as each one if us has been to dark places in the last month. No one knows exactly what path anyone else has tread, but caring for each other is important. We need to be kind-hearted, concerned and considerate.
Secondly, and equally important, we need to be grateful for everything we have and everything that has happened to us. We need to be grateful we had time to slow down and recalibrate. We are now all more grateful to have a place of work. More than that we are grateful that the public trust us to take care of them in our place of work.
Lastly, we need to answer the why of what has , is and will need to be done. We can easily answer the what and how, but why will reveal the foundation of our plans and protocols so that the team can incorporate them as part of their fibre. United in understanding we will achieve much more than just with protocols and procedures.
An extended period of closure for any business can be devastating. For a hospital, closure speaks to a further loss. The feeling of failure settles easily on your shoulders if you don’t stand tall. Stand on your foundations of empathy and gratitude, and answer why it happened.
Then what we do in the new normal will be greater than we would have done before.