By Letter to the Editor on March 17, 2020.
We are emergency physicians in Alberta, and we need you to read this.
We see a potential disaster coming that may result in an overwhelmed health-care system and much suffering. We have seen this in Italy and elsewhere. Right now, in Italian hospitals, front-line physicians are choosing who lives and dies; people who could otherwise be helped are being left to die because there simply aren’t enough resources to go around. We do not want this, and we fear that this is coming.
System overload isn’t just about COVID-19. An overwhelmed system fails everyone: the trauma patients, the heart attacks, the cancer patients, the kids, all of us. We must act quickly. The only way to lessen disaster is to slow the rate of new infections.
We must act now. It is better to over-react now and scale back restrictions later. We don’t get a second chance to contain this and prevent millions of infections and unknown numbers of deaths. Our window of time to control this in Canada is closing fast. We have been paying attention to our Italian physician colleagues and watching their sorrow. A few days from now may be too late.
Think of COVID-19 as a fire: every case is a new spark. Our public health system can chase and find many sparks, but if there are too many sparks, a fire will happen that we can’t put out quickly, and then it gets out of control. We must act now, and everyone needs to participate, not just those at risk. We must all do what we can to prevent the spread. We must act together to try to prevent disaster.
Here is what you can do:
– Wash your hands. Avoid crowds. Work from home, if you can.
– Cancel your travel plans. If you have loved ones abroad, encourage them to come home now.
– Talk to your relatives and friends about how they can avoid catching this, and about what to do if they become sick. Have a network in place to provide essentials for those who are at home. Stay in touch by phone and protect our vulnerable citizens.
– If you are sick, even a little, stay home.
– If you are worried, call Health Link or call your doctor, or go to Alberta.ca/covid
– If you are very ill, call 911.
– If you have been traveling outside of Canada, follow the public health recommendations and self-quarantine.
Be bold. Be decisive. Pay attention. We must look after each other. We commend the swift action of our public health leaders. Listen to their recommendations!
As emergency physicians, we will work hard to take care of you, no matter what.
This is serious, and we need your help. We need to work together to have our best chance at altering the course of this pandemic.
Together we need to #ShutitDown.
Dr. Duncan Mackey
Dr. Bilal Mir
Dr. Kevin Martin
Dr. Peter Kwan
Dr. Sharon Fehr
Dr. Sean Wilde
Dr. Matthew Kriese
Dr. Magda Lisztwan
Dr. Stephanie Brass
Dr. Ehi Iyayi
Dr. Wesley Orr
Dr. Nicholas Hamilton
Dr. Alan Wilde
Dr. Richard Buck
Dr. Ryan Derman
Dr. Brian Rowe