17 Jul 2020
Amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic, all healthcare workers were under increased levels of stress; dealing with uncertainty, change in the work environment, adjusting to new protocols and risking their own lives by going to work every day and potentially being exposed to the virus.
During this period, the endocrinology head of department and past AMA Tasmania president Professor John Burgess had been working round the clock trying to ensure that Tasmanians were safe and that we got on top of the pandemic. To assist his efforts, he came up with the slogan "Isolate Contain Crush Save" which was primarily to increase awareness of how to prevent the spread of coronavirus but was also a motivating message that we could crush the curve, rather than just flattening the curve by all working together.
Professor Burgess commented, "At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty and in some cases, understandably fear. I wanted the AMA to present a simple message of purpose, action and hope to colleagues and the community at large. Developing the hashtag #isolatecontaincrushsave and graphics as part of this message".
"What Hikaru and the Resident Medical Officers (RMO's) did next was unexpected, and to be honest inspirational. At a time when COVID was forcing people apart, the leadership and actions of younger doctors like Hikaru helped bring our medical community together to face the fight against COVID".
Dr Hikaru Hashimura is the endocrinology registrar at the Royal Hobart Hospital having moved here from Melbourne some 12 months ago as part of her specialty training, an experience she has enjoyed tremendously.
Hikaru added, "I felt that it would be a great idea if I could promote this slogan on a broader scale within the entire hospital and designed a t-shirt suitable for anyone to wear. Patients often asked me about the t-shirt during daily ward rounds, which was a perfect opportunity to also raise awareness amongst the patients who were generally at higher risk of contracting the virus as well.
"I really enjoyed the entire experience of putting together the t-shirt design with the help of the design and comms team of AMA Tasmania, organising the orders as well as the support I received from the RMO Society. It was, in fact, my way to keep myself busy and occupied during this stressful period, as I had not been able to see my fiancé in Melbourne for the last few months during interstate border restrictions as our initial plan was for me to fly back to Melbourne frequently; however, the pandemic left us with limited options."
Many doctors, not just in Tasmania but across other rural areas of Australia, have found themselves in the same situation. Hikaru also hoped to use this opportunity to raise awareness that the mental health of doctors and other healthcare professionals has been severely impacted during this pandemic. Doctors are passionate and dedicated to caring for their patients, which often means not only putting themselves at risk but also being separated from family and friends.
To date, Tasmania has done a brilliant job in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Despite the cluster outbreak in Burnie, we have done a fantastic job to crush the curve; however, Hikaru and her colleagues are only too aware of the negative impact on the economy, unemployment rates, and physical and mental health of Tasmanians, a situation not likely to change for many more months to come.
With this awareness in mind, Hikaru and her team identified that ongoing need for support for local businesses, unemployed Tasmanians, and anyone who was struggling during this tough period and decided to take the funds raised by the sale of the t-shirts, RMO donations and a matched donation by AMA Tasmania to support the coronavirus Hobart City Mission Emergency Relief Appeal in the hope that this action could promote further fundraisers and donations to help others in need.
Published: 17 Jul 2020