Calgary

'Those actions have human consequences': Doctors frustrated by Alberta's recent rodeo, anti-mask protests

Alberta health-care workers fighting to save the lives of COVID-19 patients say they're disheartened and frustrated by events like anti-mask protests and the recent rodeo in Bowden. 

'When we're pronouncing them [dead], it's hard to forget that face and that name'

Protesters against public health restrictions gathered at several locations around Calgary last weekend, including briefly disrupting traffic on 17th Avenue S.W. on May 1. (Submitted)

Alberta health-care workers fighting to save the lives of COVID-19 patients say they're disheartened and frustrated by events like anti-mask protests and the recent rodeo in Bowden. 

Calgary ER physician Dr. Katie Lin says many of the COVID patients she treats are essential workers who had no choice but to go to work.

She wonders if these people — isolated in hospital, terrified and very sick — register in the minds of those who are taking to the streets to protest measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.

"I think it's really easy to lose sight of the fact that those actions have human consequences, when most of what we see every day on the news — if you're not personally affected — are the statistics and the numbers," she said.

"When we're seeing the patients at the bedside, when we're intubating them, when we're pronouncing them [dead], it's hard to forget that face and that name and that family that's affected."

Lin said she worries, too, that the recent large-scale gatherings could directly lead to more cases of COVID-19 and that some attendees "may end up in our hospitals," as well.

Critical care physician Dr. Sean Spence. (WhiteOwlStudios)

If Alberta's case numbers don't come down, public-health officials have warned that hospitals could be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients within a month.

Lethbridge critical care physician Dr. Sean Spence says a recent protest could be seen directly from the windows of the ICU where he works.

"That upsetting for me as a doctor, who is taking care of these patients, and for the rest of my team, who've been working tirelessly for over a year," he said.

"I can only imagine what it must feel like as a family member of a critically ill patient with COVID-19 to see people actively denouncing or revolting against measures that could have potentially helped their loved one avoid ending up in their current situation."

With files from Jennifer Lee

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