Today was my last day at Brackengate Hospital; the tin-can COVID hospital where I have spent the past fifteen months; the Hospital of Hope. I was a part of the Brackengate team from day one. I watched the empty warehouse form into a colourful 300-bed hospital, with a rainbow “it will be ok” drawing above each bed. I helped pack the trolleys before the facility opened, I dusted off the brand new equipment and I folded medical waste bins from cardboard boxes. I watched the very first patient being admitted and was there to celebrate the first discharge. And for every admission and discharge since, I have been a part of Brackengate. Every transfer to ICU. Every death. I have met wonderful colleagues who, under the unique circumstances that come with working in a warehouse-hospital during a pandemic, have become friends. We’ve laughed together, we’ve counselled families together, we’ve dealt with delirious patients trying to escape together, we’ve struggled over difficult IV lines together (how many doctors does it take to put up one IV?). We’ve cried together and we’ve learnt so much together; about medicine, and ourselves. About suffering and death. About the human condition.
Driving out of the parking area this afternoon was a bittersweet moment. It is time for me to move on. I have a new chapter of my career to write. Although, Brackengate will always hold a special place in my memories – not because it is a COVID hospital, not because I worked there during a world-changing pandemic and not because it is a warehouse but because of some of the wonderful people I had the privilege of working with. For all the pain that COVID has caused, it gave me a new job during a difficult time, it brought me growth and healing and it made me a gentler doctor… And it provided some awesome new hiking buddies (always a bonus)!
Farewell Brackengate! Thank you, next! But first, VACATION!