Dr Punam Krishan: We sacrificed last Christmas – what’s going to happen now?

Starting as medical students, we have all been made aware of our duty of public service. While all jobs are valued and appreciated, some positions and roles carry a greater sense of responsibility which, if compromised, could cause serious harm not only to themselves or their colleagues and to the establishment, but also to the lives of others.

My work as a doctor is not much different from the work of our politicians. Granted, a mistake on my part can be fatal, but people rightly have certain expectations of what my role entails. The core values ​​of my role include honesty, integrity, respect, transparency and above all, the confidence that I will always act in the best interests of others. It can be overwhelmingly urgent to take on this responsibility, but at the end of the day, I do my job with pride and gratitude to those who entrust me with their daily lives.

This week was the first time I realized that the expectations others have of us as doctors are similar to the expectations I have of our leaders. Especially during this pandemic, we have admired the leaders of our country for helping us through this terrible time and out to the other side. This is not a political play because whatever your allegiance, it is about believing that we are informed of the truth. It has been a disappointing week for many, myself included, to learn that the rules imposed on the public may not be followed by lawmakers. If you have felt hurt, sad, betrayed, angry, and disappointed, know that you are not alone.

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As a parent, it is important for me to set rules and limits for my children. I do this to maintain order but also to protect them. It is sometimes difficult to enforce the rules, but my children learn by watching me live what I preach. We all learn and follow best by example. The best leaders who have thrived are those who set an example; a rule for all.

This week we all had to revisit last Christmas. Just 12 days before the big day, we find ourselves reflecting on how different and inspiring last Christmas was.

I filled out death certificates in bulk like never before as Christmas approached last year. Our struggling intensive care wards, seriously ill, isolated and lonely people… we all followed the rules. People have lost loved ones or have not been able to visit their families for Christmas; it was a time we never wanted to live again.

People have been counting the days this year for a better Christmas – we sacrificed ourselves, we did our part, now we want to spend the day with those we love. However, learning that some top executives maybe broke the rules last Christmas or indulged in certain parties and, worse yet, made fun of the situation, was really hard to come to terms with.

My biggest concern right now is that we have a variant of concern that is spreading across the country. We don’t yet know exactly what the impact will be on us, but we urgently need to address it, reduce transmission, and keep people healthy for a while. I am concerned that the latest news about leadership breaking of the rules is jeopardizing our efforts.

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We have potentially more restrictions on the horizon, but will people listen? How will they trust again? Do you blame them? No.

When we look at our leaders, we expect and demand honesty and the feeling that we are in the same boat together. The leaders “run” the country. We need to trust them, support them and believe that they have our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, this is not the case at the moment. I want you to know that whatever you think of the news, your feelings are valid.

Last Christmas my husband and I couldn’t see our parents. I had covid and I was isolating myself with my baby who also had covid. My husband was with our son and we had the worst time. We both work on the front lines and have continued to see the damage the pandemic has wrought on the lives of so many; the frustrations at all levels are real.

All I can ask you is that scientists and medical professionals review the data and evidence daily and urge you to be careful and do all you can to take care of each other and yourself- same. Don’t let anything distract you from it. We are still in a pandemic and on the brink of another potential wave. Nonetheless, I hope for a better Christmas than the last for all of us and while it may seem bleak things can only get better from here on out.

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