Creston Valley Hospital. Photo: Aaron Hemens

‘Wear your mask, because it’s the best shot we’ve got’: Creston Valley Hospital’s Chief of Staff

“Hard things are much easier to do if we stay connected. This virus is doing its very best to undermine our unity. Remember, we are fighting a virus, not each other,” writes Dr. Nerine Kleinhans

Dr. Nerine Kleinhans, chief of staff for the Creston Valley Hospital

Hello Creston,

Christmas is just around the corner. There is nothing “festive” about social distancing and frequent hand washing. Masked faces are not what you might call “cheerful.” The cold, hard truth is that a COVID Christmas is inevitable. And the soonest way for us to get our “normal” back is to be united in our efforts. “Normal” will continue to be a distant memory if we allow a difference of opinions to divide our community.

The most recent available data confirms that Creston has 11 positive COVID cases. Of these, about half are active and currently in isolation. Interior Health is supporting these individuals, and none of them have been admitted to the hospital. Contrary to the rumours, I’m relieved to confirm that we have not had any positive cases in our long term care facilities.

READ MORE: Town of Creston confirms positive cases of COVID-19

As time goes on, it’s evident that the mask debate is not about information; it’s about personal beliefs. Some believe that wearing a mask is an essential precaution against the spread of COVID. Others think that it is infringing on their freedom.

The recommendations about masks have changed at least 10 times since March. Even though such frequent change is fair criticism against mask-wearing regulations, it doesn’t change the reality of our current situation. British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) guidelines reflect the information we have available, which continues to evolve. Keep in mind that nobody has ever managed a COVID-19 pandemic before, and, in many ways, we are learning about this in real-time.

The BCCDC clearly states that wearing a mask should be combined with other protective measures such as frequent hand washing and physical distancing. A mask is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on its own.

As much as you are entitled to your opinion on the matter, you really should wear a mask. Yes, barring individuals with specific disabilities or health conditions, everyone should wear a mask when they cannot maintain social distancing.

Even if you are amongst those who doubt the science behind masks and infection-control, wear your mask because it is recommended and mandated by our government’s health authorities. If you are amongst those, who are annoyed by having to mask-up in public, wear your mask because it means doing something instead of nothing to get back the lives we had before COVID.

READ MORE: Creston resident living with COVID-19 reflects on experience

If you are amongst those, who miss social interaction unencumbered by face masks, wear your mask because it’s the best shot we’ve got to fight this virus. If you plain hate face masks, do it anyway because it’s one way to keep our economy up and running and paychecks coming. Trust me. You are not the only one tired of this — we all are.

Dr. Jody Carrington recently wrote that the new restrictions mean different things to so many different people. She suggests permitting yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions evoked by this situation: mad, sad, the unfairness of it all…

Hard things are much easier to do if we stay connected. This virus is doing its very best to undermine our unity. Remember, we are fighting a virus, not each other. In some way or another, all of our lives have been changed by COVID-19. COVID has taken a lot from us this year — let it not take our kindness and compassion, too.

Pull your shoulders back, fill your lungs with the good stuff, BREATHE… and focus on doing the next kind, right thing. For today, that’s enough.

And if you’re in a protest and the person next to you coughs, please hand them a mask and move six feet away.