Photo: The Canadian press
As a senior physician at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Dr. Del Dorscheid has a special vision for how COVID-19 affects patient care beyond the pandemic.
Unlike other parts of the hospital, the intensive care unit he oversees was not emptied in anticipation of an outbreak. Staff treat COVID-19 and non-viral patients alike and continue to support families as they come to terms with a serious illness.
Dorscheid also operates a provincial asthma clinic for approximately 1,200 patients virtually.
“Even though I’m here at the ICU, in the background, I still have other patients who need to be treated. It gives me an interesting experience in outpatient and hospitalization as to what COVID is doing to health care in this province, “said Dorscheid.
His asthma patients are terrified of entering a hospital and even if they have done so, most of the ambulatory tests have been halted. The new coronavirus has prevented a large part of the non-COVID population from accessing the appropriate and timely ambulatory care they need, he said.
Death is still present at the ICU. Normally, about 85% of admitted patients survive, said Dorscheid.
Doctors and nurses caring for the seriously ill already understand that death is a reality. But COVID-19 has added an emotional burden to their work.
The mourning room is now empty and the roof garden is no longer a farewell place. Dorscheid said he was struggling to provide the same compassionate care to families within the limits imposed during the pandemic.
“For me it is very important to have physical contact with these people. I see their body language, I see who the matriarch, the patriarch is, you see all of that, ”he said.
There is also a spiritual purpose in their work, he said.
“We’re all going to die, and it’s not something to worry about. What we want to protect is the understanding of this individual and what he meant for the lives of these people, and that death can be pleasant and comfortable and makes it a very beautiful thing. ”