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OPINION: The Unsung Heroes of Healthcare



2024 was going to be a tough year for me. I knew it going into it. I knew it since January 8th, 2024 to be exact. That was the day the doctors told me that my journey had reached its final stages, and the medical system was nearing the end of the road for me.


We had anticipated this moment since beginning the "big Cancer Journey" in September 2020, but I didn’t think I would get here so soon. These past few months have been incredibly challenging. I’ve been trying to put on a brave face, keeping myself busy to avoid dwelling on the grim possibilities. But, as the saying goes, "The only things you can rely on in life are death and taxes." Now, the second part of that journey has come knocking like an old, inevitable friend.


I have never liked hospitals. I don't like them. Never have, never will. But what I have come to admire and respect are the people who are on the front lines of our healthcare system. They are the lifeblood of our medical facilities, and they made my stay at the Peter Lougheed Centre this past weekend a surprisingly pleasant experience. I was admitted to the hospital after visiting my family doctor following a collapse in my kitchen, hitting my head against the island.


My past experiences with hospitals, especially on weekends, have been less than ideal. The last time I had a Saturday doctor’s appointment, I was told I had a tumour—on July 25th, 2020, no less. Happy Birthday to me! This time, after collapsing while preparing for a routine check-up, my doctor instructed me to go to the Peter Lougheed Centre immediately. My partner Ricardo drove me there and thus began my encounter with the doctors, nurses, technicians, and porters of the Peter Lougheed Centre.


The men and women who assisted me during my stay were calm, cool, and collected. Nurse Michelle exemplified how a single person can change your entire outlook on the healthcare system. She was kind, generous, and down-to-earth, taking the time to understand me and my stutter.


Props to Nurse Michelle for her compassion and professionalism.


Dr. H (sorry didn't get his full last name and his signature looks more like chicken scratch to me), the attending physician, also played a crucial role in making my hospital visit a positive experience. He took the time to understand my aversion to hospitals and what led to my collapse. His empathy and thoroughness were remarkable and reassuring.


Despite the issues Alberta Health Services has faced recently, the frontline staff have been a pillar of strength and dedication, making the Alberta healthcare system exceptional. The doctors, nurses, technicians, and porters who work tirelessly often go unrecognized, yet they are the true heroes who keep the healthcare machine running smoothly.


These frontline workers face immense pressures daily. They deal with underfunded facilities, understaffed shifts, and an ever-growing number of patients needing care. Despite these challenges, their commitment to providing excellent care never wavers. Their professionalism, empathy, and resilience shine through, even in the toughest circumstances.


During my stay, I witnessed firsthand the dedication and hard work of these individuals. From the moment I arrived, every interaction I had was marked by a level of care and attention that was both comforting and reassuring. It made me realize how essential these men and women are to the healthcare system and how their efforts directly impact patient experiences.


Nurses like Michelle work long hours, often without adequate breaks, to ensure patients receive the necessary care. They manage the complexities of patient care with grace and competence, all while maintaining a positive attitude. Their role goes beyond administering medications and monitoring vitals—they provide emotional support, advocate for patients, and are often the primary point of contact for families seeking information and comfort.


Doctors like Dr. H face the daunting task of diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions, often under significant time constraints and with limited resources. Yet, they approach each patient with a dedication to understanding their unique circumstances and providing personalized care. Their expertise and compassion are critical in guiding patients through some of the most challenging times in their lives.


Technicians and porters, too, play vital roles in the healthcare system. Their work behind the scenes ensures that everything runs smoothly, from preparing medical equipment to transporting patients safely and efficiently. Their contributions are essential to the overall functioning of the hospital, yet they often go unnoticed.


As I prepare to navigate the healthcare system once again, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude for these frontline workers. They are the unsung heroes who make our healthcare system great, and their dedication and compassion have left a lasting impact on me. Despite the difficulties and uncertainties that lie ahead, I find comfort in knowing that there are individuals like Nurse Michelle and Dr. H who will be there to support me.


In Alberta and across the world, healthcare workers deserve our utmost respect and appreciation. They embody the very best of humanity, showing up daily to provide care, comfort, and hope to those in need. Their work is a testament to the resilience and compassion that define the human spirit.


To the men and women who keep the healthcare machine chugging along—thank you. Your hard work and unwavering commitment are what make our healthcare system truly exceptional.


In these challenging times, let us remember to honour and support our healthcare workers.

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