Tired, frustrated, but hopeful: A check-in with CBC Toronto's Front-line Heroes
CBC Toronto spoke with paramedics, physicians featured in our series about what's changed since the spring
Take a quick glance at Dr. Paula Cleiman — a Toronto emergency physician — and there's a clear difference in her appearance between now and the spring.
Yes, her hair is shorter, but her pregnant belly has also vanished. This summer, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
"It's been actually an adventure, both wonderful, but also terrifying," she said.
"Working pregnant during the pandemic, not knowing anything about this virus ... not knowing what kind of impact it has on a pregnant woman and on a baby."
CBC Toronto spoke with Cleiman back in May as part of our Front-line Heroes series, which featured dozens of people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, several months later and in a new wave, we thought we'd check in with a few of those featured to find out what's changed for them.
Despite all of the unknowns, Cleiman spent the spring working with the University Health Network. At the time, she told CBC Toronto she felt she had an obligation to her colleagues and to her patients to continue on the front line.
Cleiman is still working but now, from home. She says she has thought about whether she should end her maternity leave early.
"If, God forbid, we become another Italy or another New York and my team, who is really my family, needs me back there, I am for sure going to go back and help out," she said.
WATCH | Dr. Paula Cleiman speaks about how she feels watching the second wave unfold from home:
For Dr. Gray Moonen, it's the mental health crises, the delays in care and the overall anxiety he's seen increase throughout the past few months that weigh on him.
Moonen helped to inspire the Front-line Heroes series back in March when he began posting his own tributes to the janitorial staff, baristas and pharmacy clerks he saw working at Toronto Western Hospital, where he's a family medicine resident.
Back then, he didn't think there was enough recognition for all the people who continued working when the city experienced its first shutdown.
"Over time there was a recognition for that and a bit of a reckoning with who we feel like is essential," he said.
But as the case count continued to rise and as more people began to let down their guard, Moonen says he became frustrated.
"The sentiment had kind of changed where, 'Oh, this isn't a real thing,'" he said.
"It's very, very real to us that are actually working in the hospital."
WATCH | Dr. Gray Moonen describes how patients are "dying alone" and the pandemic's impact on hospitals:
In May, Toronto paramedic Francesca Arkley sent an e-mail to CBC Toronto wanting to thank her partner on the job, Heather Stuive, for having her back.
The two women have spent the entire pandemic working together, and they say that's been a big help for their own feelings of security.
"Certainly at the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was anxious. We were," Arkley said in a recent interview.
"There was a lot of uncertainty about the virus. We noticed we were getting more frequent calls for people with mental health complaints, people who were feeling anxious, just like we were, and that's okay. We're happy to help."
Of course, they've dealt with patients who've tested positive for COVID-19. Throughout it all, they say they've done their best to keep themselves, and their patients, safe.
"It's definitely stressful because it's a new disease that we didn't know much about. But now I think we have some information and we're trying to take a positive approach to it and help people the best we can," Stuive said.
WATCH | Two Toronto paramedics speak about how their job has changed since the pandemic began: