As an Australian emergency physician, I can’t wait to shut the guide on 2020 | Stephen Parnis | Opinion

December is the month I cherish above all others. I savour this time with my household and associates – celebrations of generosity, love, and my many communities. It’s often an opportunity to mirror on one other busy yr, and to anticipate the approaching one with hope and optimism.

This yr, nevertheless, December feels very totally different. I don’t assume I’m my regular self, and I do know that lots of my colleagues within the well being professions really feel the identical method.

After months battling the worst pandemic this nation has seen in dwelling reminiscence, many people are lastly coming to phrases with a fatigue that won’t be sorted out by an excellent night time’s sleep.

We have now been in a state of fixed alert for your complete yr.

Whereas it appears so way back, this yr started with face masks for causes aside from a pandemic. Smoke, destruction and large bushfires left many with scars. If the blackened skies, devastated communities and horrific air air pollution ranges had been the one well being disaster of 2020, they nonetheless would have made the historical past books.

However then, a virus known as Sars-CoV-2 made its presence recognized in Australia.

Previously, I might typically be talking for the medical career on this nation. However after a yr when “teamwork” has develop into crucial phrase in my skilled life, I really feel the necessity to converse for your complete spectrum of healthcare staff. I pay tribute to their brilliance this yr. We have now endured a lot collectively in 2020, and we now share a bond that can by no means be severed.

Of all of the challenges healthcare staff have confronted this yr, a continuing theme has weighed upon us.


When would the pandemic hit? Would Australia go the way in which of many countries, and see hospitals overwhelmed? How would we deal with our sufferers once they turned desperately sick, and their oxygen saturation dropped to ranges we often affiliate with cardiac arrest? How may we shield ourselves, our colleagues and our households, realizing how infectious this virus seemed to be? Would a Covid vaccine ever be developed, and the way lengthy would it not take?

For a few of us, there was at all times one query that lingered greater than some other.

When the wave arrives, and the sufferers begin being wheeled by way of the ambulance bay doorways, would I be equal to the duty?

Quick ahead 9 months, and lots of of these questions now have solutions.

We have now all confronted some extent of lockdown, isolation from family members, and been prevented from working, travelling and learning in methods we used to take as a right.

Greater than 28,000 Australians have been contaminated, and 908 of them have died.

Among the many useless, the frail aged have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Many have died in aged care settings, in addition to in hospitals. So many died separated from their family members, solely capable of hear their voices on the cellphone or see their faces on a display – that can stay with me lengthy after this pandemic is over.

Thousands of healthcare workers contracted Covid-19, three,573 in Victoria alone. Regardless of the perfect efforts of many, and a really steep studying curve, our security has by no means been totally assured. Whereas I dodged the bullet and was an in depth contact in isolation early on, lots of my colleagues weren’t so fortunate. Some ended up as sufferers in their very own hospitals; some required intensive care. Time will inform what number of develop persistent sickness – so-called “lengthy Covid”– with unknown implications for his or her skilled and private lives.

Australia has carried out properly by world requirements in combatting this pandemic. However in the event you lived by way of the second wave in Victoria, you’d be entitled to assume in another way.

The lengthy months from July to October had been bitter and painful in Melbourne. Caring for thus most of the sick behind face shields, masks and robes has traumatised many people. However we’ve a lot for which we could be proud and grateful.

Melbourne healthcare staff soldiered on regardless of excessive an infection charges, lengthy hours, workers shortages and little probability for a break.

Melburnians stayed the course. They adopted the professional recommendation, contained the virus, and guarded the remainder of Australia. All of the whereas, the kindness proven in direction of healthcare staff touched us all, and made issues a bit simpler. Wanting again, eliminating neighborhood transmission in Victoria is a exceptional and distinctive achievement.

And but, psychological well being displays have skyrocketed – displaying that the pandemic will not be but completed with us. Information from around the globe is heartbreaking, and all we will do is provide assist from a secure distance.

As this painful yr attracts to an in depth, Australia is tempted to congratulate itself on doing significantly better than many of the world. However whilst I write, Sydney is contending with a brand new outbreak. The remainder of the nation watches on anxiously – notably these of us who’ve seen the influence when an Australian metropolis loses management of the virus.

Secure, efficient vaccines are on the verge of approval and mass manufacturing. The necessity for PPE at work in many of the nation is declining. The final Covid case I handled was over two months in the past.

Adversity is the best instructor, and there are such a lot of classes to be taught. However proper now, all I can take into consideration are a couple of weeks off with the folks I really like.

And shutting the guide on 2020.

Dr Stephen Parnis is a Melbourne emergency doctor, and a former vice-president of the Australian Medical Affiliation