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ER doctor captures humanity and hope through hospital photography project

"As the pandemic began to affect our Calgary hospitals and community, I realized that I wanted to capture what was actually happening inside our hospitals."
By: Heather Marie Connors
January 15, 2021
"Feelings of joy and gratitude after this ICU doc received his first vaccination." Photo: Heather Patterson
"Feelings of joy and gratitude after this ICU doc received his first vaccination." Photo: Heather Patterson

As an ER doctor in Calgary, Heather Patterson has treated and intubated many patients. The clarity and focus required means setting aside the emotion of the moment.

But as a photographer, Patterson is able to experience the connection between patients and health care workers in a different way.

"When I'm standing at the foot of the bed, running a resuscitation, being the team leader, making the decisions … I can't experience the same emotional experience," Patterson told CBC.

"I identify it and I put it aside, to debrief it later. And as I'm behind the lens, I'm actually doing the extreme opposite. I'm looking for those moments of humanity … and this has been a profound learning experience."

Dr. Patterson is on sabbatical, and with the permission of Alberta Health Services is documenting the experience of health care workers, families and patients through a photography project she plans to continue until the pandemic is over. She hopes to one day display the images in a gallery or book.

"As an academic emergency physician, I hope to share these with the community of medical people in a way that's compelling, to open the opportunity to discuss what we're experiencing, how we're experiencing and open up dialogue."

See more of Dr. Patterson's photos below and on Instagram.

Source: CBC Calgary

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