Wednesday, May 10, 2023

So Close!

I spent the better part of yesterday morning in the waiting room at a dental surgeon's office while my daughter got her wisdom teeth removed. They said it would take 40 minutes, but it was more than 90 before I could see her. She's fine.

I was pleased to discover that the office takes Covid very seriously, particularly since hospitals have dropped all mitigations. But they didn't get it quite right. 

There was a HEPA in reception, but it felt very stuffy in the waiting room, and I can't believe I didn't bring my CO2 monitor to check the air quality. Patients were buzzed into the building only after answering screening questions and ensuring they wore a mask or else one would be provided and required, which is amazing, but it meant I couldn't just wait on the grass right outside the door and have them call me or even just knock on the big window when she's done. I had to choose to be in the waiting room until she's in recovery or not at all - not allowed back in to sit with her in recovery. I opted for the former. They said they couldn't possibly let people in and out all the time, and I accepted that explanation, except they seem to just manage 2-3 patients at a time. 

There's no way to get oral surgery with a mask on, so it really helps when everyone else in the building is masked, but they were mainly in surgical masks, not N95s. At one point, while my daughter was nervously waiting to be called in, a receptionist behind a sheet of plexiglass with a 6" gap at the bottom - right at face level with people in the waiting room - took off her mask to chat with the other receptionist. My daughter provoked me to ask her to put it back on, which I did after a few minutes of watching her work with her mask on her chin. I'm very wary of being that person with anyone I need help from! She was very icy with me when I asked every so politely if she wouldn't mind maybe keeping her mask all the way on. "I will," she replied, making sustained eye contact and waiting until I sat back down before slowly pulling it back up. At the start of the surgery, she interrupted them several times to ask my daughter about insurance issues despite me sitting RIGHT THERE in the reception area, and I couldn't help wondering if it was payback.  

My daughter brought a paper bag, labelled with her name, for staff to put her mask in for the duration she needed it off, but they didn't. And we didn't get it back until just before we left. Luckily I had a spare for her to wear in recovery. Despite the mitigations, I didn't like the odds of another patient in the recovery area possibly having asymptomatic Covid.

The doctor and nurses were fantastic and so comforting and friendly, so it was generally a great experience - as good as surgery can be, but it really goes to show how far people are from understanding the very best ways to mitigate Covid. The office held themselves up as having the highest possible standards but missed how easily that receptionist could infect all the patients who have to take off their masks.  

A similar questionable risk assessment happened when I went to Shoppers Drug Mart to get all her recovery meds. She's being given Tylenol 3s, which is pretty standard, but now the pharmacist had to walk me through how to use a Naloxone Kit in case she overdosed. It's great the kits are everywhere and free and random people can help someone they find overdosing, and I think there should be one available in every fast food restaurant where people might use the bathroom to get high. But how often do people OD after oral surgery - particularly when everyone cautions them to take a regular Tylenol instead, as long as they can possible stand it. The pendulum has swung from encouraging painkillers liberally to the point of causing an addiction crisis to the other side: encouraging pain tolerance instead of the narcotics created for the very purpose of pain management.  

But after a 20 minute lecture on addiction, I could no longer restrain myself from asking why she doesn't wear a mask despite seeing a mix of very sick and healthy people all day. I was hoping she'd tell me about some amazing ventilation and filtration system there. Instead she explained that she social distances instead (across a 3' counter); she's worn a mask long enough, and she's done with that now. 

I told her it floats in the air like smoke, so being 3' away from people won't help. She just rolled her eyes. I tried to educate her, but it just annoyed her. Even experts in the field are being ignored on this, so I expected her reaction, but took a shot just in case. Public Health and the WHO comms could cost her her life -- and anyone else who goes there unmasked for medication. People seem to have completely lost sight of the reality that being in public maskless can cause irreparable harm to other people. Lots of cases are asymptomatic, so we can spread it even if we don't feel sick. N95s work, and Covid is still putting people in the hospital, so it still feels like a no-brainer to me to keep wearing a mask. It's killing more than traffic collisions, so I can't get my head around wearing a seatbelt but not a mask. 

I appreciate the efforts to help save lives with screening checks and Naloxone Kits, but it seems all for naught without a willingness to wear an N95 to prevent the spread of Covid. 

Check out this public health guy's TikTok (link here if the embed below doesn't work)

@dutchdeccc Replying to @Cookie Monster why I still wear a mask #masking #publichealth #disabilityjustice ♬ original sound - Dutch

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