It’s Our Hospital – Barbara McConnell, PECMHF Board Chairperson

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It’s Our Hospital

I think we would all agree we are living in a remarkable time.

The routines and traditions of our daily lives are gone, at least for the next several weeks. Three months ago, who could have foreseen that the activities we took for granted would be displaced by a strict ‘isolation at home’ requirement, and that we would want to do it.

Hockey games, school, work, faith services, lunches with friends, play dates, movies at the Regent, chatting with friends in store aisles, walks at the Outlet Beach, all forbidden for our own health and safety.

2020 will be forever known as the ‘year of isolation’ because of COVID-19. Worried about infection, we funnel our energy into keeping our families safe and to do that, we isolate? We keep our distance.

Yet what I see is that while keeping our distance, we are drawing closer together. We are finding joy and camaraderie in doing things together, but differently.

It was first evident to me in Italy where, even with the severe loss of life, people took to their balconies to serenade neighbours, to lighten spirits and though apart, to build new definitions of ‘together’. As these spontaneous events spread like the virus, they were recorded on cell phones for the world to see and enjoy. That technology allows us to share, to connect and to tell stories about how COVID-19 is changing us.

My daughter-in-law, for example, is baking bread and takes joy in showing me her results online. She never had time to do that before the quiet of isolation. It helps her manage the anxiety of how COVID-19 has affected her family’s life.

A work colleague told me recently about her two boys. Having exhausted their interest in their PlayStation (who would have thought that possible), figured out how to shape barbells from a tree limb and firewood, so they could ‘workout’. Kids who would normally go their separate ways were working on a project together, happily.

Other examples abound. In isolation, it seems, we’re spending more time together, whether some of us like that or not, and we’re actually spending more time talking.

While I marvel at this change in societal interactions, I am also aware that many in our community may find it difficult to find silver linings. The worry about vulnerable family members and fragile economic situations may be, for some, overwhelming. It is in times like this that we need each other more than ever.

As chairperson of the Hospital Foundation, I am particularly aware of extraordinary needs in our community. Not only must we raise funds to keep our hospital strong, a priority also must be to care for our health care workers so they stay strong to help us fight this virus. Our gratitude goes to them everyday.

At the same time, we must look beyond our immediate community to the entire Quinte region. Part of ‘being in this together’ is that we help our neighbours in all of Quinte who may become ill and need hospital care in Belleville, Trenton or North Hastings. For that reason, our Foundation created the COVID-19 Relief Fund. It allows donors to help people throughout Quinte, wherever the need is greatest, by ensuring the hospital system has the resources it needs – equipment, personal protection equipment, health care staff – to get us beyond this pandemic.

Not everyone can help, but if possible, now is the time to choose a charity closest to your heart and give.

For information, or to make a donation to COVID-19 Relief or Back the Build, please call 613-476-1008 ext. 4502 or visit the Foundation’s website at www.pecmhf.ca