We often say that fear marks the beginning of wisdom. Under other circumstances, fear can also be the result of ignorance, of disengagement and sometimes of closed mindedness. Like any kind of upheaval or event of major importance, the COVID-19 pandemic will have enfeebled our convictions. From this day forward, humans have a perception of risk and are aware of the limits of their own existence.

If, before COVID, our health system displayed some weaknesses, its functions remained operational. However, the last year will have shown us that this system is fragile and hanging by a thread, a thread that is held with difficulty by humans who even through the roaring of the storm, and although thoroughly exhausted, have demonstrated unbelievable strength and courage.

Jacques Gagnon, the president of Imagem, a firm that specializes in the development of technologies in the healthcare sector, doesn’t hide the fact that he is worried. How will the healthcare system manage to stand the ravages in a post-COVID era?

Gagnon believes that no one has really ever thought that one day, working in a hospital would be dangerous. Janitors, nurses, doctors, receptionists, lab technicians, respiratory therapists, all of them have been exposed to this COVID-19 virus, a virus that is difficult to contain. And they are still exposed to it. Inevitably, it changes our perception of the field.

The Need to Lay New Markers

For many months, hospital parking lots have been largely deserted. Are people less sick than before the pandemic or is the population afraid to go to the hospital? Does fear have something to do with this situation?

Gagnon, who knows the hospital environment well for having set foot there very often, says that if people are afraid to go to the hospital, to receive treatment or worse to go and work there … it’s just unthinkable.

According to him, fear is at the root of many of our ills. Before, we used to pray God; today, the new god is technology. We believe that technology can remedy all our shortcomings and correct our destructive behaviours. Instead of reducing our carbon footprint, we seek technological developments to sequester carbon. Instead of taking charge ourselves of our health, we wait for a pill or a miracle treatment.

Jacques Gagnon talks about last week’s commemoration ceremony of the tragedy of Saint-Jean-Vianney and how this tragic event had impacted on urban development policies and how precautions are now exercised. The Saguenay flood had the same effect. And now COVID.

What lessons will we learn from this worldwide pandemic? It’s still too early to know. All the same, we will need to rapidly determine up to what point we will allow ourselves to be guided by fear.

Fallen Angels

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have collectively portrayed healthcare workers as angels. We have applauded their courage and their resilience and have expressed our admiration. However, have we sufficiently taken care of our angels?

They chose a career to be at the service of the sick, caring for the ill, and helping others without realizing that one day they would be putting their own life on the line at work.

Jacques Gagnon reminds us that at church, we were told that we all had a guardian angel. Truer words have never been spoken! When we are suffering, in a state of disarray and helplessness, we need to be comforted, we need the kindness of an angel. However, the angels we are talking about, we don’t want them in heaven, we want them at our bedside. And to have them there, we need to take care of them. From now on, our angels are very much aware of the risks of their profession, says Gagnon.

This fear, the same one that today torments police officers who are afraid of being filmed while they carry out their duties, the fear that keeps social workers awake at night as they ask themselves if they properly assessed the severity of a case, the one that thwarts desires and subdues passions, let’s hope that this fear will not deprive Québec of the service of these precious angels.