RWC Series: "Facing Challenges from Around the Globe: Covid-19"

By:  Netan Choudhry, MD FRCS(C) DABO (Canada)
Co-Founder & Medical Director, Vitreous Retina Macula Specialists of Toronto (VRM Toronto)
Canadian Retina Society
Other Affiliations include: ASRS and ARVO

A Message from Netan Choudhry ~

Paradigm Shift

This past December we heard the news of an epidemic sweeping across the Hubei province in China, with Wuhan as its epicentre. While many of us around the world peripherally paid attention from afar, the situation escalated with increasingly concerning news reports. We were hearing about scores of people being affected, locked downs and hospitals being constructed over days. Having not lived through a global pandemic, these news stories seemed to be almost unthinkable, and likened to a Hollywood movie. 
Back home in Canada, we experienced one of the worst flu seasons on record beginning in December. I myself fell quite ill over the holiday season and ended up in my local ER. In the following weeks more and more people in my circle of friends and colleagues would report falling ill from the “flu”, including much of my clinic staff. 
We soon recovered and as reports increased of a worsening flu season, I made the decision to acquire the necessary personal protective equipment to continue to care for patients and not spread anything to our already vulnerable patient population. 
Entering into March 2020, it was clear that the pathogen which had impacted China was going to be a clear and present danger in Canada also. Canadian winters run long and it is not uncommon to encounter snow in March. 
Toronto is a major urban center and in the last six weeks we have seen it largely become completely emptied. My practice is focused now on providing essential care to patients requiring emergency care, injections or consultation. We are using a virtual approach to engage patients and determine their true needs with respect to having them come to the clinic. I never thought I would have to discuss the risks of potentially losing sight with patients at the expense of them possibly acquiring a life-threatening illness en route to my office. Never has the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm” been as challenging in my career, than now. 
As a society, however, I have witnessed a shift. People across the world have come together and begun to realize that we are all the same. We are all vulnerable to the same things, enjoy our freedom and most of all, enjoy the company of others. Whether it be walking through the grocery store at 2 metres or being stopped at a cross-section, people are more generous and considerate than ever before. We are slowly beginning to embody the essence of mindfulness with gratitude for the our most important resource-our health. 
Wishing everyone health and safety from the Great White North-)
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