Eye of the storm: A nurse shares her experiences of looking after COVID-19 patients
These days, Neha Bisht starts her day at 3 am - in isolation. No family around to gently shake her shoulder or bring her a hot cup of tea to wake her up at that hour. No, those niceties don't have room in her life right now. She's on a war-footing: she wakes up now in an insipid hospital hostel room to a blaring alarm mingled with birdsong (there's so much more of that in the Capital now).
A nurse in a hospital in Delhi (she requested that we withhold the name of her hospital in this story), Neha is one of the hundreds of doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, lab technicians and other healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in India and receiving little thanks for it. Just days after the health ministry confirmed that about 50 healthcare workers (not all of them on COVID-19 duty) have tested positive for the new coronavirus infection, she shared her experiences of being a soldier in the country's war against COVID-19.
This is her experience, in her own words:
Everyone is worried, so are we, but we take all precautions. Also, we (medical professionals) have to be there for people in this hour of need!
It helps that we get special training to avoid infection: like how to put on the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), proper steps of handwashing. So far, we have proper PPE in our hospital for all medical staff. And yes, we are getting hydroxychloroquine medicines from the hospital (the Indian Council of Medical Research has issued strict guidelines against self-medication for the general public - hydroxychloroquine can have many side-effects and is only given to healthcare workers because they are at higher risk of contracting the infection).
We do not live with our families: we all live in isolation rooms, stay in hospital hostels. We are not allowed to go out. Water and food are being supplied to us in our rooms only. The food is prepared separately and given separately to the isolated staff.
We leave our rooms only when we have work - otherwise, we stay in the room all day. Our normal duty timings are only six hours for each shift, but the staff who are seeing the COVID-19 positive and suspected patients have four shifts throughout the day.
I do talk to my family every day: I tell them each and everything that happens in a day. My family is scared for me but my father is my backbone. He says he is proud of me and those words keep me going and give me positive energy.
When a patient comes here in a critical condition, we directly take them to the ICU (special for COVID-19 patients). But if the patient is stable, we send them to the COVID-19 ward. Whenever a patient comes, he/she is attended by two nurses along with a doctor at our hospital.
We cannot stay away from the patients because we have to give medicines to the patients, we have to give steam, we have to take samples for investigation, we have to check vitals, etc.
We cannot eat or drink anything on our duty time. We cannot go to the washroom: to do that, we would have to remove the entire PPE which is very expensive (putting on PPE is a 10-step process and can also take some time).
After completing the shift, we need to take a shower before coming back to our rooms. Sometimes our shift ends at 2 in the morning and then restarts at 3 or 4 am again.
Right now, there is just one thing I want: I want people to stay in their houses. Only when they stay in their homes, will we be able to go to ours.
Experiences and views shared in this article are the writer's.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
Updated Date: Apr 05, 2020 14:16:44 IST
Tags : Coronavirus, Coronavirus Nurse, COVID-19, COVID-19 Hospital, COVID-19 Isolation, Covid-19 Medical Staff, COVID-19 Patient Care, Fight Coronavirus, Myupchar Experiences, NewsTracker, Unsung Heroes, War On Covid-19
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