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“I am lucky to be an RN...”; an optimistic account of providing frontline care for the homeless in Calgary

RN and University of Calgary medical student Bikram Sekhon writes about the rewards and challenges of working at an Assisted Self-Isolation Site (ASIS) alongside physicians, pharmacists and social workers.
By: Heather Marie Connors
June 12, 2020
Photo provided.

When med school exams were cancelled in March, RN and medical student Bikram Sekhon searched restlessly for ways to help with the pandemic. The opportunity came when a fellow RN offered him the chance to work at a pop-up isolation centre in a Calgary hotel.

Through the collaborative effort of the municipal government, the Calgary Homeless Foundation, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the Assisted Self-Isolation Site (ASIS) was created to house individuals facing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19, are symptomatic or have been in contact with a positive case.

Providing leadership at the site are RNs who work alongside LPNs, NPs, MDs, pharmacists and social workers. Sekhon and his colleagues perform screenings and health assessments, and coordinate social supports like housing and addiction treatment.

“I am lucky to be an RN, able to help out at the frontline” Sekhon writes in his post for UCalgary; “Many health-care students have felt unable to help, often juggling complicated feelings as they make their way through online studies in an uncertain time.”

Policies and procedures at the ASIS can change on a daily basis, adapting to best serve this vulnerable population. Healthcare workers must balance the public health requirements for isolation, with the ethics of providing care where it is needed most.

“I am optimistic after seeing the innovation, compassion, and determination of our health-care workers to meet the challenge of COVID-19. I believe our future health-care practitioners will be even brighter and more empathetic to meet similar challenges, which are likely to come.”

Source: UCalgary News

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