Nurses Day: ‘Being a nurse is a calling and I’m glad I answered that call’
Dimapur, May 11 (EMN): The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has strained the country’s healthcare system, and healthcare workers employed in hospitals are racing against time to help the multitude of people who have been afflicted with the disease.
“Every day it is nothing short of getting ready to enter a war zone. It is scary as we have to see all the worst things coming and deal with all the things or knowledge or experience we have, and we have to do our best even if everyone loses hope and it is not at all easy,” Avino Dichao, a nursing officer from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, shared about her experiences of working in Covid-19 wards.
On the occasion of International Nurses Day, which is observed on May 12 every year, Eastern Mirror spoke to some nurses — the unsung heroes — to share about the trials and challenges of being a healthcare worker during this pandemic.
Dichao shared that the pandemic has had a far-reaching negative impact on the healthcare system worldwide and has placed the “healthcare providers under immense physiological and psychological pressure”.
She mentioned that during the first month of outbreak in 2020, healthcare workers were exposed to a variety of new and unprecedented events and they experienced a range of feelings in response to such events.
“For sure it is a difficult situation because we don’t know enough about the virus,” she added.
She recalled how every other day there were changes in protocols, changes in guidelines and “we don’t know what drugs or treatment works and what doesn’t work”.
“Patients were coming today fine and they were dying, be it young, old, healthy and we did not know what to do,” she said, adding that they felt helpless.
“What strikes me the most is the very fact that the patients are without their families or loved ones. They say goodbye at the door and they may or may not see each other again. It is not a pleasant thing as a nurse to know that when they die, it is just going to be them without their loved ones by their side or hold their hands and say their final goodbyes,” she shared.
When asked what keeps her going, she shared that even though there were moments of breakdown, increased workload and changes in routines and schedules, “I try to appreciate what I have in life now and make the most of it”.
“I have started to eat healthier, engage in healthy leisure activities like knitting, crocheting and I am trying to make sleep more of a priority than before, and socially connecting with my family and friends has increased,” she said.
“And I also must admit that my professional satisfaction increased during this pandemic as I felt valuable. This period has made we nurses stronger, it has reinforced our skills. While everyone shouldered responsibility, we the largest in number put ourselves fully under that load. Being a nurse is a calling and I’m glad I answered that call,” she stated.
She said that on the work front, there were challenges like fast changes in the workplace, heavy workload, adapting to the day-to-day changes in protocols and guidelines.
“But the biggest challenge is the fear of contracting the virus and fear that I will be an asymptomatic carrier and pass the virus to my brother who stays with me. I still remember when I was going back home in the month of February, the fear of taking home the virus and infecting my parents was more than the excitement of meeting them after many months,” she shared.
But she believes that despite all the fear and challenges, what keeps her going is “the faith that I have in my heavenly Father watching over me and my earthly parents praying for me unceasingly”.
She further urged the people to not let their guard down as the virus is still looming large.
“People who think that the virus is nonexistent and downplaying this disease to the point of conspiracy and saying this is all a scam are misinformed,” she stated, adding that people who are ‘scared to the point that they stay in their homes instead of seeking medical attention are not properly educated’.
It is essential to empower ourselves with the right information and education and thus a change of mindset is badly needed, she added.
Further, she urged all the citizens to lend a helping hand in these trying times which includes staying home and staying safe “because this reduces the transmission of the disease and thus lessens the burden to our medical team and the whole system at large”.
Vezhohulu Tunyi, a staff nurse at District Hospital Longleng also shared that from day one of the pandemic outbreak till date has been a ‘hectic situation’.
“We as frontline workers were also discriminated against while rendering our services without even proper facilities and equipment,” she said, citing that the one thing that keeps her going despite all the obstacles is “my oath to serve humanity”.
She said that there were still social stigmas but compared to last year, ‘there is less stigma and fear among the public’. She asserted that every responsible citizen should work together to fight this virus.
She further shared that everyone should be more vigilant and more responsible than last year. “Happy Nurses Day to all the Nurses,” she greeted.
Another nursing officer from AIIMS, New Delhi, Saniiru Lanah shared that due to the pandemic, they had minimised patients in the non-covid area to maintain social distancing even inside the ward ‘because there is a higher chance of contracting the virus when there are more patients’.
She also recalled that last year while she was treating patients, one of them tested positive and then later all the patients in that room as well as herself and her colleagues also tested Covid-19 positive.
“We have to be very cautious whether we are with patients or with colleagues,” she said.
She shared that she was more scared of contracting the disease and passing it to her family members.
“It is very challenging as we have to be very cautious and at the same time we have to look after the patients too,” she said.
She mentioned that many of the healthcare workers including doctors, sanitary workers and others had tested positive for the virus.
“This time, it is very serious and it really breaks my heart as our own colleagues working in hospital are not admitted until they are really sick,” she said.
“We know things are really bad but I have seen people who are really careless. I have seen my patients who tested positive after coming to hospital and it breaks my heart because many of them had co-morbidities and had died,” she added.
She further appealed to everyone to have their own share of responsibilities and take it seriously and ‘be responsible for them and also think for others’.
She also said that she was glad to be working at this time because “this is one of the worst days and we are meant to be a part of that”.
“2020-21 has been very different and we really don’t know what to expect,” she added.
Dr. Keveduyi Theyo, Medical Superintendent of District Hospital Dimapur also stated that nurses are the backbone of our healthcare establishments and the “real Covid warriors”.
They have families and yet they sacrifice their duty as wife and mother for the Covid patients, he said.
Highlighting the roles nurses play in healthcare system, especially during this pandemic, he said that ‘they are everywhere, in the ICU, HDU, general Covid wards, Covid dialysis, operation theatre, labour rooms, infection control and prevention team, imparting training to new staff; they work in the canteen preparing diet for patients and Covid duty staff; they are in the labs, blood bank, vaccination drive, sanitation and hygiene team; you name it they are the ones spearheading’.
He also mentioned that they have highly qualified nurses including post graduates, BSc nurses, and post doctorates apart from the regular GNM nurses.
“Their knowledge is up-to-date and their skills are second to none. They are also educators and run the school of nursing. They also train the community health officers to take care of the health and wellness centres,” he added.