–Kakali Das |
The year 2020 had been tyrannical for millions of people with job losses, personal loss of family members, with people falling sick. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Diwali, Christmas were spent away from the people that we love, hadn’t been able to go see the people that we care for. Too many people have been alone with tremendous stress on their mental health. To think of the people who have worked the hardest in this crisis, people who have been least acknowledged for the work that they have done are the Nurses and Mid-wives. Even on a normal year when there is no pandemic, the job of nursing is the hardest and most selfless that one can think of in the world. But in a pandemic as such, the amount of pressure that came on to the hospitals, the number of patients, the fear of healthcare workers themselves getting infected along with their family members, having to work in PPE suits incessantly for hours – all of that together they managed to keep us alive. We realised that in the last one year when we have not able to even visit our family members in the hospital, we left our loved ones completely in the care of nurses. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. That’s why the World Health Assembly has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
“In the month of March, discussions were going on in the hospital amongst the workers that infections would spread in Bombay soon. In the second half of the month, the entire hospital was turned into a Covid19 centre. We had to work amidst extreme fear of getting infected. I became Covid-19 positive on 1st July with the symptoms like, fear and body ache. I felt how devastating it was to be infected with the virus. I stayed amidst the infected patients since it was my duty. I am diabetic, have hypertension and even had a major surgery, yet I didn’t shy away or abandon my service during the entire course of the pandemic. Since childhood, I dreamt of serving the people and hence I got into nursing. Even after a month of my surgery, I joined the hospital as I couldn’t sit and rest at home while my countrymen were in pain. I feel blessed to be in this nursing profession. In 1992 when there was a train bomb blast, I served the people day in and out”, Smita Gaitonde, Head Nurse, GT Hospital in Mumbai said.
“On 3rd August, may husband was admitted to the hospital and in the ICU after he was tested positive with the virus. Thereafter, my entire family became Covid19 positive and all of us were admitted to the hospital with my husband. On 27th of that same month, my husband left us for the heavenly abode and yet I joined the service soon after 40 days of his death”, Shama Sheikh, Nurse, George Hospital in Mumbai said.
Victoria Hospital actually received a large amount of the load in Bangalore when the virus infections started. “We started receiving cases from the month of March. In the initial days we faced tremendous problems – the nurses used to stay in the PGs or rented houses and some in their own. The way the neighbours looked at the nurses were traumatising; it’s as if we were the Covid19 viruses. The people hesitated mingling with the nurses, the owners forced the nurses to vacate their houses. We faced a lot of problems and we approached the management about these issues and brought this to the notice of the Dean and Directors of the institution. We intimated the Police regarding these issues, we brought this matter to the concerned minister also and later on they made some arrangements for the nurses to stay in the quarters and other premises, and as the cases increased they started providing all the facilities for the Covid19 care patients and the workers”, Santhosh Kumar, Male Nursing Officer at the Victoria Hospital in Bangalore said.
It sweats a lot to be in the PPE suits for 6-7 hours consistently; it dehydrates immensely and nothing becomes properly audible in the suits. The cleaning staff weren’t showing up in the initial days due to the fear of the virus. As a result, the nurses were the ones cleaning the premises, alongside managing other miscellaneous works. The doctors, nurses and the para medical staffs were in dire need of psychological aids along with free admissions and other treatments, since they had been the witnesses of in-numerous deaths in front of their bare eyes. Doctors treat and leave but the nurses stay with the patients for 24 hours serving and showering them with love and utmost care.