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Pandemic reflection: Shaun

The leadership team at Arcus wants to share how they have taken care of themselves, and each other, what inspires them, what they miss the most and what lies ahead.

Today, meet Shaun.

What were the first few weeks of the Pandemic like for you?

Extremely stressful as both my wife and I are nurses. It was difficult to adjust. I decided to get a new job at the start of the pandemic which added to the stress.

What was the summer like?

The summer was good, loads of hiking and exploring BC.

What’s it like for you now?

The stress level remains high- my wife deals directly with Covid as she is a critical care ER nurse. Consequently, we often spend time away from one another in order to protect the clients I work with. Additionally, I suffer from a birth defect called Myocardial bridging, wherein, my coronary artery grows inside of my heart. As a result, I would likely not fair well with covid- my wife carries this burden everyday which is difficult at times. However, we are doing well and I try not to live in fear- i simply follow the guidelines, remain diligent in terms of wearing a mask and hand washing and try to encourage my peers- some of them work in the icu and they are struggling. Comparatively, as an RN things could be a lot worse when working in a pandemic.

What does your new routine look like?

My entire world shifted- from driving into Vancouver’s downtown east side 4 days a week for 12hr shifts- now I am often working from home, often alone, which is fine bc I enjoy solitude :) I don’t spend time with anyone other than my wife when we are able to - and of course my animals.

How would you describe how you’re feeling now?

For the most part I feel at peace, I am hopeful for the future- I think it’s important to stay positive although I am a realist- I think that the trap of negativity can infect everything in your life. Recently, I felt burned out and frustrated- but I had a lot of feelings bottled up- I reached out for support and I am feeling much better.

I am very hard on myself and a mild perfectionist which can lead to burnout. Being aware ofthis has helped me to mitigate “overdoing it.”

What’s been the hardest for you?

Two issues: Worrying about spreading the virus to the clients I care for, both at Arcus and in the downtown east side.

Hearing, reading and watching people call this virus a hoax, refusing to wear masks or socially distance; all the while watching what my wife and my colleagues/friends who work in the hospitals have to deal with, including one of my friends who is an infectious disease doctor at VGH. It is very difficult not to react to people who are circulating misinformation. However, I don’t believe confrontation will resolve anything- I think trying to listen and understand and responding with empathy will likely have a greater impact than arguing about it.

You are in a leadership position, what qualities do you think have been most important in leading at this time?

Patience and empathy.

How have you been taking care of yourself?

I exercise 5 days a week, play drums and take my dog into the forest for hikes :)

We get by with a little help from our friends...who would you credit as helping you through this time?

My wife and my colleagues

Do you have any life experiences that have helped you get through this time?

I have travelled all over the world- including Africa. Witnessing how different societies function has allowed me to have a greater appreciation of where well live and the opportunities we have here- even in the midst of a pandemic.

Any silver linings? Small graces? New hobbies?

New job at Arcus which has been great.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Traveling again.

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