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Working together to get through the pandemic

When you think of someone working in a hospital, what Sofie does probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Sofie is a hospital switchboard worker – she forwards calls between doctors and runs the hospital codes for entry, among other things. In her words, “We are sort of at the heart [of the hospital], where we are kind of like the phone operator.”

Fortunately for her, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 hasn’t affected Sofie’s work too much since her role is administrative, but she feels its reverberations.

“We have to take a lot more precautions and in dealing with patients and the public, it’s changed a little bit of our routines,…but we are not feeling the effects as much as nurses and doctors are,” says Sofie, alluding to the heroic frontline workers.

Sofie’s routine at work isn’t the only part of her life impacted by the pandemic. As someone who depends on transit to get to work, some of the service cuts we had to make on the heels of losing $75 million a month have made some parts of Sofie’s commute a little more challenging. Despite these limitations, TransLink is still moving over 75,000 people daily while we continue to best navigate the challenges of these trying times.

“It’s getting harder to get to and from work on certain shifts,” explains Sofie. “And with limited services… [buses are] not as predictable in terms of when they are going to be running… so that makes it harder.”

Fortunately, when Sofie does get on her bus, the travel time to the hospitals she works at are not longer than they were before.

As for what she can control, Sofie is doing her best to take safety precautions when she takes transit. “I try to limit in person contact as much as possible and try to keep a little extra distance,” she says, “but as long as I am dependent on taking transit there is only so much I can do.”

Sofie understands that while there is only so much that can be done to tackle the unique challenges of a pandemic, as long as everyone comes together, we can get through it. “I think it’s important to stress that everyone’s doing their part and especially healthcare workers,” says Sofie. “They are taking extra precautions, they’re doing the absolute, utmost [they can].”

“They’re risking their family’s lives and their own lives every single day and fortunately for me I’m not in that sort of front line in the same way. I’m protected, sort of, by working in an office, but the public has done a lot to take extra precautions, especially TransLink – it is appreciated.”

In order to help promote physical distancing and allow riders the opportunity to take proper safety precautions, TransLink limited seats on the bus and introduced rear-door boarding, measures which Sofie thinks are effective.

“In general, people are a little bit more careful; they’re not taking the seats closest to each other anymore, which is obviously a huge help,” explains Sofie. “And limiting the number of passengers per bus… I think it’s effective.”

Due to reduced revenue caused by COVID-19, TransLink has had to make some difficult decisions resulting in temporary staff layoffs, voluntary cuts in pay and reduction to service. We are actively working with senior government to secure more funding to reverse these decisions. Public transit is an essential service, and we know +75 000 people are still reliant on transit, including frontline workers. Sofie’s story is another in our series about the people who are keeping our region operating during this unprecedented time. We at TransLink applaud all that frontline workers are doing, and we’re working hard to get them to their important work – Together all the way.

Do you have a story like Sofie’s or know someone doing good these days? If so, we’d love to hear from you via our social channels or email. Together we can get through the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Telling stories of the effects on each other’s lives can help.


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