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November 04, 2021

Letter to the Editor: A Case of the 'Mondays'

Grey Bruce Health Unit building through shattered glass

LETTER TO THE EDITOR — As normal, the weekend has ended, and the workweek is upon us. Many of us, like in the movie Office Space, may have the slight case of the 'Mondays'. You know; the slow dragging yourself out of bed, tired, and wanting one more day at home… The Mondays… Well, our Monday at the Health Unit took a turn for the worse upon arrival. You see, instead of entering our place of work through the doors as normal, we had to walk over cardboard with shattered windows and glass on the floor.

I can tell you, I am frustrated, and I could have easily let my frustration turn into anger, however, that would be easy. Instead, I want to be kind and to understand. More on that in a bit.

I first want to address why I was frustrated. I got frustrated because my initial thought was that whoever did this, did so out of anger at us. I have seen this type of anger all too often during this pandemic, so it was easy for my mind to go there first. I have seen vile words thrown at staff, and at myself. I have seen the trail of hate all over our social media accounts (thankful that we have the ban and hide function for those that blatantly refuse to adhere to our terms of use). I have also had to comfort staff that were on the verge of exhaustion due to abuse from many and the enervation brought on by this thing we call a pandemic. Do you know why people are angry, or are upset and frustrated at us? To my conclusions, many are upset because we are doing our jobs to the best of our ability.

What does doing a good job mean for us? It is rather simple (yet very complex when put into action). We follow the robust scientific principles of public health, set out in our Public Health Standards, Protocols, and Guidelines, and from Public Health Ontario and other governing and best practice organizations. Our job is also to respond to any emergency that the public has a stake in, as per the Health Protection and Promotion Act. In addition, we must use our resources to ensure that we adhere to these Standards, Protocols and Guidelines and Emergencies in a way that is best suited for our local population, based on risk and a local landscape.

During a time when there is a global pandemic, where millions of people have died, we are responding, as per our job, to this pandemic, in partnership and in concert with our governing bodies, particularly the provincial government and local stakeholders.

Now that you are all fully aware of what our job is, the question I keep asking myself is, why get upset and angry at us? Why get angry for us doing what we were hired for and do in the best way possible? Why get angry with us for putting in tireless hours, taking work home, missing family and special occasion? I know why. Those are rhetorical questions. Our job sometimes interferes with you and your lives, so I get it; I understand where the frustration comes from. Guess what, I get frustrated at things too, but I know it is not the individuals working here that I am to get frustrated with; it is the pandemic, not anyone in particular. It is a similar response to getting a speeding ticket. We know we were caught, and yet, we are angry with the officer that is simply doing what we pay them to do — to keep our roads safe. Let me tell you however, it is totally OK to get frustrated. There is a huge difference in being frustrated than to act on that frustration in hate or anger towards one of our staff, and yes, to our building as well.

Let me now explain, why I did not let my frustration turn to anger on Monday morning as I walked over glass to get in to the place that I work. I, to my demise and benefit at times, am an empath. I have a strong knack at putting myself in people’s shoes, to try to understand why they did things. I can confidently say, whoever did this, must not have been in their right state of mind (for many reasons), or they simply did something out of pressure, fun or perhaps even out of hate. I can’t conclude which of these it was, and I never will, unless of course this next paragraph gets a response.

To whoever, or whatever group did this act, I invite you to come and chat. I would love to hear from you. I would love to learn from you. I would love to be a sympathetic ear to you, and to give your reasons a chance to see the light of day. You see, instead of getting angry, I want to turn to kindness and conversation, and personal reflection. I want to know the whole story before I react. I want to see you as who you are, not what your isolated actions of one night tell me. I want to meet you, and talk to you, and to show you a kind heart and ear, plain and simple.

From there, maybe we move forward, and learn from each other, or maybe you continue to act the way you like. At that point, in time, I think we will at least know where we are coming from, and can make that decision confidently.

For today however, I turn my attention inward, to the dedicated team at the Grey Bruce Health Unit. I want you to know that you rock. You are doing a fantastic job. You are working as hard as I have ever seen in my time as a nurse and a manager. You need to be proud of what you have done, and who you are. Do not let some broken glass guide you, however, realize that glass can get broken and picked back up, but as a team, we will stand firm and do what is right — do our job! We are all here together, and will all stand tall in the face of challenges — we will get through this together! WE WILL NOT SHATTER! Keep being the kind people that you are, as kindness, patience and empathy will allow us to get through this together.

To the vandals, I remind you of my invitation to come and talk. My arms are open, and that invitation will stand.

To the public, and everyone else, please, let us all be proud and remain kind, even in the face of frustration and disagreement.

Yours truly and kindly,

Ian Reich, RN, BScN, EMBA
Grey Bruce Public Health Manager – Foundational Standards


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