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Recognizing the health-care workers on the front lines of B.C.’s coronavirus outbreak

Click to play video: 'Emotional impact of COVID-19 on B.C. healthcare workers' Emotional impact of COVID-19 on B.C. healthcare workers
Doctors and nurses on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus share their stories on how their lives are being impacted by the pandemic. Sarah MacDonald reports – Apr 27, 2020

The people on the front lines of a collective unprecedented fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak all too often remain faceless and nameless — all the while risking themselves to protect us.

And while British Columbians continue to find ways to recognize them for their efforts, healthcare workers say the 7 o’clock cheer that’s become a tradition across the province is having a meaningful impact.

“We’ve had the sirens come around the hospital, which is really inspiring,” Dr. Greg Haljan, the Intensive Care Unit department head at Surrey Memorial Hospital told Global News.

“And the cheer, it really does inspire you and remind you why you’re doing this. We have a lot of gratitude for the community.”​

ICU clinical nurse educator, Fiona McLeod, added the recognition and gratitude means so much to those working in the hospital.

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READ MORE: The fight to save patients from the coronavirus at Surrey Memorial Hospital

“To be honest, it means so much. We have cried about it in our offices. It means so much, we hear you, and thank you. This isn’t just about doctors, this isn’t just about nurses. This is about everybody.”

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Of course, health care workers are not in the line of work for the recognition — but they deserve it. Now, more than ever.

Many of those on the front lines have children and families of their own that they’re not seeing as often as they typically would, with the challenges of combatting a global pandemic also demanding more of them as healthcare professionals.

“The biggest challenge has just been the time away from my wife and kids,” Haljan said. “But the way I framed it to [my kids], because they like to help, is that we all need to help right now—because a lot of people aren’t as lucky as us. And we need to make sure other people don’t get this germ. They know, they can pronounce ‘pandemic.’ And they know this is a big deal.”
Click to play video: 'Rare look inside a hospital dealing with the COVID-19 crisis' Rare look inside a hospital dealing with the COVID-19 crisis
Rare look inside a hospital dealing with the COVID-19 crisis – Apr 24, 2020

Both Haljan and his colleague, McLeod, say their children are old enough to grasp the magnitude of what their jobs demand of them — and especially now. McLeod’s children range in age from two to ten years old.

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“My kids know what I do for work: they know that I help sick people. And when I talk to them about it, those who can articulate it tell me they’re proud of me. And if I can be a good role model for them, then I’ve done my job as a mom.”

Haljan says his children, six and eight years old, take part in the 7 p.m. cheer themselves — and for his family, like so many others who have loved ones on the front lines, that’s the most meaningful part of all.

“I’m just really happy when my kids come running towards me,” Harljan said. “And they’re excited when I get home.”

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