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Who we are behind the masks: Part 2


Vancouver General Hospital anesthesiologist Dr. Cyrus McEachern started this project to photograph his anesthesiologist colleagues in the hospital spliced with personal images to illustrate how work and personal lives intersect and affect each other. Read more about this project in part one of this story series.

We asked the VGH anesthesiologists in the portraits how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their work and personal lives, and what these photos say about both.

The strength of an eagle

“My experience has been very positive because of the excellent planning and preparedness by the VCH EOC," says Dr. Himat Vaghadia. “I'm seeing firsthand how our VCH community has come together to support each other and our patients."

In this portrait, Dr. Vaghadia shows how to take care of his mental and physical wellbeing with a home-based practice of yoga.

“This photo is of the eagle yoga pose: it symbolizes strength, compassion, protection and nurturing. These are qualities that all of us at VCH are harnessing to fulfill our mission to our patients and to each other."

An impressive response to the pandemic

“This photo is a representation of two parts of my life that I keep very separate and that are so different to one another," says Dr. Shruti Chitnis. “It reminds me that every person has more to them than meets the eye, thereby reinforcing the respect I have for everyone I work with."

Dr. Chitnis is an anesthesiology fellow and a traditional Indian dancer.

“The VCH response to COVID-19 has been excellent," she says. “The planning and fast implementation of new protocols has been very impressive, considering new protocols generally normally take months to put into practice. Patients are extremely grateful for our care and empathy - I will never forget that."

Our interests have been put on hold

“This photo reflects on the fact that I have a life and interests outside of the hospital," says Dr. Henrik Huttunen. “Like most people around the world, those interests have been put on hold while we face this challenge together. I look forward to the future, hoping to be able to enjoy activities like skiing with my family."

He's amazed at how quickly the anesthesiology department and hospital prepared for the threat of COVID-19. “What I will remember most from this experience is the team work and adaptability that was forced upon us by the pandemic. It has been inspiring see so many different people stepping up to new roles."

Playing mind games with yourself

Dr. Oliver Applegarth is shown in the hospital and with his wife, a family doctor, in Vietnam in early January 2020 when they started to hear of a unique SARS-like disease out of Wuhan.  

“It was concerning, as I was a resident during SARS-1, I had some idea of the ramifications," he says. “We met so many great people on that trip, and when I see this photo I realize that every one of them is now as affected by COVID as any of us here in Canada."

“We had the luxury of having a bit of time to prepare as we saw it sweep across Asia and Europe, and almost overnight we established teams, divided tasks, created protocols, collaborated with other departments, practiced, practiced some more, and then waited in a battle-like stance to pounce."

Despite the practice, this was still an experience like no other.

“I intubated a patient suspected of having COVID a few weeks ago, and it left me with a myriad of thoughts and feelings," he says. “Although I've given anesthetics for almost 20 years now, this was entirely different. While we had practiced the protocol over and over, I somehow still felt nervous executing it, and you play mind games with yourself (you got this! It's no different than any other case? Wait, it is different? Shut-up brain!). I remember the strong feeling of teamwork I felt during the procedure."

Vote for your favourite

The VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation and VPSA will be displaying ten of Dr. McEachern's photos in the hallway between ICU and the pre-operative care centre at VGH. 

Vote for your favourite photos here. The 10 photos to receive the most votes will be the ones chosen for display.

SOURCE: Who we are behind the masks: Part 2 ( )
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