Like so many couples with young kids, paramedic Chris Mosher and public health nurse Geneviève Mosher are in the thick of it, trying to balance work and parenting throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But the nature of their work means they each have a unique perspective on the public health crisis.
|Chris and Geneviève Mosher pictured with their three children Zachary, 4, Zoe, 2, and Makena, 6, outside their Orléans home. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Their roles in the health care system might be very different, but in the midst of the state of emergency, they are benefiting from one another’s experience, gaining a unique appreciation for what’s at stake in the city’s fight against COVID-19.
Interestingly enough, the Orléans couple first met 10 years ago during the H1N1 outbreak while giving vaccinations at a clinic. Now married with three young children, they balance family life with life on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a paramedic, Chris must wear a full set of safety gear when responding to calls. That means a face shield, safety glasses, an N95 mask, a full gown and gloves.
Having to wear the personal protective equipment brings with it a whole set of challenges.
“It’s not easy to make yourself heard through all that safety gear, so communicating can be a challenge,” says Chris. “It also gets really hot. There are times we’re carrying people up or down flights of stairs, so it gets sweaty and if the glasses fog up it can be hard to see."
“For most people at home, the view out their window isn’t that much different than it was this time last year. People may know theoretically that we’re not through this yet, but most don’t see it with their own eyes. That’s probably why some people are finding it hard to keep staying home and following physical distancing guidelines,” says Chris.
“But as paramedics, we’re in and out of hospital emergency rooms. We’re in and out of long-term care homes. This pandemic is playing out before our eyes, and for us there’s nothing abstract about it. I have colleagues with family members who are high-risk, and many of those paramedics are choosing to self-isolate from their own families. Some are living apart to avoid the risk of spreading infection to elderly parents or family members with auto-immune illnesses, for example. These are the kinds of things I hope people will think about when they’re tempted to go out.”
Geneviève works in the Healthy Growth and Development program, which normally deals with new moms, newcomers, and mothers and families living in shelters. Those in-home visits were suspended as of March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Geneviève has been working from home, following up with patients by phone or teleconference to monitor their progress.
Balancing work while looking after three young children who would norm-ally be at school has not been easy.
“Parents working at home with kids in the house are essentially working two full-time jobs simultaneously,” says Geneviève, who offers a bit of advice to other parents who have to juggle work with caring for their children. “I think the best thing people can do is temper their expectations and try not to pressure themselves and expect perfection.”
“I’m always telling my clients to take care of themselves. You can’t work or take care of others if you aren’t well yourself, and we have to realize that dealing with the stress is hard. My advice is to take things one day at a time. I know it’s hard, but you should try to carve out some time for self-care. I also try to remember that if parents are stressed, the kids will feel it too. Instead of striving for perfection during this incredibly difficult time, I’m focusing on maintaining calm in the house.”
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