Sign In
CPSI Share                                                  
4/16/2020 7:00 AM

Ali AlidinaFor the April 2020 Digital Magazine, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute reached out to some of our own to discuss how they are handling the pandemic. Residing in Alberta, Ali manages information technology and telecommunications operations for CPSI. In his career, he has ranged from web software developer to web manager and volunteer IT trainer in Uganda.

“I’m at home with my wife every day,” says Ali over the phone, with the smile in his voice that always seems to be present. “She is bored and climbing the walls – but I love it!”

Ali is in a bit of a different position to witness the rise of COVID-19: he has been preparing CPSI for something like it since 2011.

“I wrote in my Strategic Continuity Plan way back then to ensure 24/7 office access from anywhere,” he says, “and that plan evolved. We started with being flexible in supporting staff working from home or hotel rooms or coffee shops across the country and around the world. All of that work meant that our IT team was ready to support the shift to all of our staff forced to work from home.”

Now, as the rest of the world shuts down and shifts to online connection, it is not connectivity that is the issue but rather equipment: docking stations, monitors, and printers. “Staff have different needs, working from home,” Ali says, “and we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this shift. I have to arrange to send out what they need when they request it – if we can even find an active source charging a reasonable price!”

However, as prepared as Ali and his team proved to be at sheltering CPSI’s productivity from the pandemic, he and his wife weren’t quite as lucky.

“We had booked a 15-day Hawaiian cruise, starting from San Francisco on March 7,” Ali groans. “We were assured there was no cancellation until we got on our flight – but when we arrived in San Francisco, the cruise was cancelled.” Since insurance would only fly them back home, Ali decided they would try to salvage some of the trip. They had a wonderful visit to Google Cloud Campus, only to discover their rental car was broken into when they stopped for dinner – though thankfully they lost nothing.

Leaving San Francisco for much quieter Palm Desert, Ali and his wife found very little of the concerns that were spreading around the world at the time. “There was no panic buying, no social distancing, but within a week, that began to change,” he says. Bowing to media and family pressure to return home while they still could, Ali found a direct flight from Las Vegas.

Ali and his wife got home safely, though he noticed huge gaps in infection control on his way back home – even by March 16, there was no sanitizer between travellers clearing customs, no wipes in the luggage area, and no testing for symptoms. “I mean – customs agents had masks and gloves, but they didn’t change their gloves between passports!” Ali sighed.

“One conclusion that I have drawn from the coronavirus shut down,” says Ali, “is that we should start considering internet access as a fundamental utility, like water or electricity. We rely so much on our connections. With work, school, and even employment insurance all online – why haven’t we made internet access a necessity yet?”

Clean hands have never mattered more. Take the Clean Hands Self-Assessment to find out if you are cleaning your hands properly, then Pledge Clean Hands to tell the world you commit to cleaning your hands. Access Hand Hygiene Fact Sheets for messages you can share to help flatten the curve.