It’s the little things

Sandra Northcott wearing a surgical mask

Sandra hails from friendly eastern Canada, where her elderly parents continue to reside. “Our parents are aging and have serious medical issues. It has been difficult not to do our annual summer visit and even harder knowing that if anyone took a turn for the worse and ended up in the hospital, I could not see them as Atlantic Canada has strict self-isolation policies.”

During this pandemic many people are trying to balance their personal and professional lives, and Sandra is no exception. “I moved much of the mental health care I provide to virtual care. Some have embraced it and some have struggled without face-to-face contact. I was surprised, however, by how many patients were pleased they could continue with their regular appointment by phone or video. It reduced their anxiety about coming to the hospital and taking public transit.”

In addition to her role as psychiatrist at Parkwood Institute, Sandra also supports the wellness of medical students, dental students and residents at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “My Learner Equity and Wellness team provided virtual wellness groups for students - it was not something we had done previously, but we will continue.”

A self-proclaimed “hugger”, Sandra can’t wait until hugging is okay again. In mid-July, her sister and niece drove three hours to sit on her patio. “It had been months since we were last together and it was so good to see them. But as I walked them to their car I was quite aware that it was the first time I had not hugged them as they arrived or left. I look forward to when it is safe to do so again.”

Inspired by her co-workers, this devoted physician greatly appreciates a friendly face. “Every morning after being screened, I am greeted by Francine, who hands me my mask and sometimes a treat that has been donated by the community. I look forward to my morning chat with her. Despite the mask you can see the smile in her eyes. I walk away each time with a smile on my face, eager to start my day.”
 
Though concerned for her family out east, Sandra is grateful for some of the changes she has experienced with her family at home. “There are a few things I will miss when we go “back to normal”.  My two children go to Western and live at home. They both were active in sports until things shut down. In March, we started a new tradition and chose a television series, sat down together each evening and watched an episode or two. I looked forward to the end of the workday and spending that time together, which is not typical when your children are 20 and 23.  As things have opened up, I already see our routine coming to an end.”
 

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