Updated: Mar 23, 2020
It's difficult to plan a blog without mentioning you-know-what, so I'm grabbing the bull by the virus-infected horns and dedicating this week's tirade of angst to all the amazing people that are trying to help us stay safe and well during COVIDageddon.
You'll know by now that the guidance changes daily - and like me have watched our usual daily routines crumble as shops, pubs, restaurants and schools close, and events like exams, clubs, sports fixtures, plays and concerts are cancelled. I'd like to dedicate this post to all the amazing teachers, owners, and organisers of these businesses and events who've had to be the harbingers of bad tidings, deal with the outpouring of disappointment and financial detriment, watch months of preparation and work simply fizzle, and pick up the scraps to try to rearrange - if this is even at all possible. Because the stark reality is that, just like an episode of Spooks, nobody actually knows what's going to happen in the end.
Here at OSMP, we've had countless meetings to plan for, and adapt to, the changing state of play. It's a little like being on a Bucking Bronco whilst trying to perfectly ice a wedding cake. Ok so I haven't actually done that for real, but I did have a dream about it once. Anyway, back to our important "doctory" meetings: think COBRA but without the free government logo beer-mats, much more practical and with actual real concrete outcomes. For instance, we've switched all our appointments to telephone slots, and if during that conversation your GP feels you need to be examined, we'll arrange for that to happen, and we have an isolation room for anyone we feel has symptoms that need to be kept away from others. Also we're going to start wearing scrubs tomorrow, so we'll look properly like TV doctors. Exciting!
Don't forget to look for silver linings. Pollution has reduced (eco-elbow bump!), nobody is really mentioning the horrors of Brexit, parents are suddenly becoming very creative, and the classic York spirit has exploded with folk doing "North England" (thanks Saj) proud by supporting each other, in stealth mode. Doorstep drops. Perfunctory conversations at arm's length. And our superb local shops supporting those who can't get out: some greengrocers such as Millie's and Love's are offering free home delivery. More people are checking on neighbours and offering to help out.
What else can you do? Well, for starters keep smiling, reassure those around you (especially children who may be panicking about monumental changes to their routine), and be sensible about hand washing and shopping. Leave online delivery slots for those that simply cannot get to the shops. Continue to help us by only ordering your regular medication when it's almost due. Thanks also for understanding that we have decided not to issue more than 1-2 months' worth of medicines at a time, in order to try to reduce stockpiling and therefore shortages with central stock (and wastage). This also applies to toilet roll right? Well diarrhoea only emerged as recognised symptom in the past few days, so where are the public getting their secret intel from ahead of the government?! And let's leave paracetamol for the people who are recovering from emergency surgery or have recently given birth.
Remember that WHO says:
1. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday through twice). 2. Avoid touching your face. That includes you, nail-biters and nose-pickers! 3. Avoid contact with people who are vulnerable. And if you can’t, wear a mask. 4. Cover your coughs with the crook of your elbow. 5. Disinfect surfaces you regularly use. 6. If you feel unwell, stay at home and call your GP. And currently, if someone in your house has a new persistent cough and/or a fever, all household members should stay home for 14 days. Time to check that Netflix subscription has renewed. 7. Only share information from trusted sources! Let's spread kindness, not panic or fake news.
And finally, please continue to thank our super reception staff who have accepted all the changes and challenges we've given them, and have had to be their usual bright and cheerful knowledgeable selves despite the chaos outside. We have been totally buoyed by the gratitude from patients - give yourselves a pat on the back. Unless you were the young man walking out of Sainsbury's with a large plastic bag full of toilet roll multipacks. Yes, I saw you.