By Michael Plotkowski, PA-C
Medicine is often considered art as much as a science. Even Hippocrates argued that wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity. During the difficult and uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, wellness, mental resilience, and creativity have proven more therapeutic than ever. With this thought in mind, a forum called “PCaRt” was created to recycle the tools of the medical trade and design art from the thousands of used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test kit canisters that health units around the world have been using to test staff for coronavirus.
Each PCR test utilized by the Department of State health units is vacuum-sealed within an aluminum canister to maintain sterility. The canister then no longer has a medical purpose and is often discarded. Rather than toss the canister in the waste, Medical Provider Michael Plotkowski came up with an idea for health units to get creative with their repurposing of the canisters. From homemade wind chimes to Christmas decorations, abstract art, and even salt and pepper shakers, health unit staff have enjoyed a well-deserved mental break from their work to create their art.
“At first, I gave some of the canisters to my kids to collect trinkets in, but Michael’s idea got me thinking about how we could upcycle these into something more useful and more meaningful,” said Heather Christensen, PA-C medical provider at Embassy Tunis. “I used the aluminum tubes to create candle holders for my Thanksgiving table. The process was therapeutic. It took my mind off of my never-ending to-do list and allowed me to focus on many things I am grateful for this year—more time with my family, a great supportive embassy, and creative colleagues who continue to reach out to lighten my day.”
The health and wellness of embassy staff is the primary mission of all health units. At times, medical personnel might accidentally neglect their own health and wellness for the mission. “PCaRt” was a simple project to recycle discarded supplies, build camaraderie within the health unit, and take a mental break from the exhaustive responsibilities of the pandemic.
Michael Plotkowski, PA-C is a Foreign Service medical provider at Embassy Yerevan.