Even though she is not stationed at the Harrison Point Isolation Facility, Dr Akilah Burrowes is doing her part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as a frontline worker. She has been on call for the patients in her community, helping and guiding them through this unprecedented health crisis. She describes it as a unique experience.
In her review of last year’s lockdown, she noticed there were fewer patients opting to visit the office. However, she said, the situation this year has been different.
“There was a steady flow of traffic, so it has been important to regulate the flow. We’ve adjusted by using an appointment and a ‘call before you come’ system. That way, we can safely socially distance the patients, even in between appointments to avoid overlapping,” Dr Burrowes explained.
As physical examinations require touch, she simply does her best to safely provide care in what is becoming the new normal.
“The doctors at the hospital in the Accident & Emergency Department (A&E), those at Harrison Point . . . those are the real frontline workers in this profession,” she told TODAY’s Woman. “My role is to encourage my patients to be vaccinated, and if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, direct them to one of the testing centres.”
But if the matter is not COVID-related and care can be provided within Dr Burrowes’ office, she does so, so as to reduce overcrowding at the polyclinics, and prepare them if they have to go to A&E.
She does this because “it would be one less task for someone to do when the patient reaches A&E,” she explained.
Having a good support system of fellow doctors, family and friends has been essential to ensuring stability during this time for Dr Burrowes. She shared that having that inner circle of other industry professionals is a big help, since they can check in on each other.
Working through the pandemic has also meant relying on her parents and sisters to help with her children.
“Having my sister, who was visiting from Canada, here during the first lockdown played a big help. She was able to supervise my daughter, and supervision is crucial with online schooling,” she noted.
This time around, with her mother, father and sister working from home, they have been able to help with her two daughters— an eight-year-old and soon to be one-year-old.
The busy doctor has also discovered a ‘secret’ that she has found crucial in managing her emotional and mental health during these challenging times: “I love colouring with my daughter; she loves that time we spend together, and it’s very therapeutic for me.”
However, she does not discount the role spirituality plays as well.
On her way to work, she listens to uplifting music. Attending online church has alsOn hteexercise goes, she told TODAY’s Woman the endorphins are a real boost to help her with consistency.
To add to those tips for coping, she advised other frontline workers: “We are in this together and it holds true. When we all do our part, it eases the burden off of somebody else.”
She also urged Barbadians to be a helping hand to those vulnerable groups.
“If you know there’s a granny in the community, call her up. She may be afraid to leave home to get her meds, and if you can, help her. And call your friends and family. We know visiting can be ticklish now, but calling and saying ‘hi’ is still social distancing. Just stay connected with your loved ones.”
This article appears in the 2021 edition of TODAY’s Woman. Read the full publication here.