I’ve been thinking about Lorena

A dear friend of mine lost her only child this week in a tragic turn of events.  I spent time with her in the immediate aftermath. As we were walking through the woods, using physical activity in a vain attempt to ease the pain, she quietly asked, “why is it always the good ones that go first?”

On reflection, it made me think about Lorena. I had the great pleasure to meet Lorena Enebral Perez in our collaboration with the ICRC to deliver an open online course on managing children with cerebral palsy.  Lorena was one of the gracious volunteer course facilitators who so generously offered her time to share her knowledge with others.  I interviewed her about working with children with cerebral palsy and she effusively encouraged incorporating play into therapy for children.  I remember being struck by her wide smile and infectious enthusiasm for the work that she did, she was one of those amazing physios that exuded happiness and joy as she gave her energy to others.

When Lorena was shot the physiotherapy community went into shock. This doesn’t happen to us.  We respect the ill and injured people that come to see us at their time of vulnerability, we do not expect to feel vulnerable ourselves.  For the trust put in us we trust back.  We listen, we care, we do our best to help.  If we can’t help, we find someone that can.  We have respect and we expect respect back.  The last thing we expect, in the simple act of caring for someone else, is violence.

The WHO reports that between 8% and 38% of health workers suffer physical violence at some point in their careers, and that many more are threatened or exposed to verbal aggression.  Violence against health workers is unacceptable. The negative impact on healthcare staff wellbeing and subsequent compromise to quality of care puts healthcare provision at risk.  The ICRC announced this week that they will be reducing their presence in Afghanistan.

“Why is it always the good ones that first?” Because they are wise beyond expectation and have lessons to share.  Thank you Hayden and Lorena, you have both taught me so much, you will never be forgotten.

Find out more about violence in the workplace from the World Health Organisation.