Nurses, who are directly treating COVID-19 patients, are not scared of the disease. And even if the fear of contracting the infection does strike them, they are confident of overcoming the challenge.
Sister Rani Mahadik, who was infected by the virus, says she will be back to work after finishing her quarantine. She was affected by coronavirus while handling the patients but her two reports were negative after 15 days. She was among the first batch of nurses who handled COVID-19 patients at Sassoon hospital. “I am determined to join back and serve COVID-19 patients. I don’t have fear for myself, but I am concerned about my family. Otherwise, work is worship for me,” says Sister Rani who has an experience of 11 years.
The staff nurses say their family and neighbours are all supportive. “Initially, when I was new in the coronavirus ward, I had fears of contracting it. But now I don’t fear coronavirus. Even if I get coronavirus, I am confident of defeating it,” says Sister Priyanka Jadhav, who is working in the isolation ward of the Aundh Civil Hospital. She has experience of 28 years and has been working in the intensive care unit of the hospital.
Echoing the views, Sister Snehal Mahankale, also a staff nurse at the Aundh Civil Hospital says, “We have been trained so thoroughly in handling the coronavirus patients that the fear word has gone out of our mind. Whether it is about removing PPE gear, giving medicine or interacting with patients, we follow the protocol strictly. But even after this, if coronavirus were to strike me, I am confident I will recover from it. There are so many patients who are getting well. Therefore, what is there to fear?,” she says.
A nurse from Sassoon hospital, whose colleague got coronavirus, says, “I have already packed my bag and baggage. If I get coronavirus, I will not sit brooding or worrying like other patients. I will fight it out, I have learned a lot while handling the patients. But I am taking care of myself, following the protocol strictly. I still feel I will keep COVID-19 away from me.”
Narrating the experience of handling patients, the nurses reveal that people who are detected with coronavirus are in an extreme state of shock. Some cry, some are gripped by fear, some refuse to talk or interact. Some patients even try to flee the moment they are told that their report has come positive.
“The patients are restless and filled with anxiety. They hear all this news on TV channels about the death of a large number of coronavirus patients and therefore harbor wrong ideas. One of the patients whose report was yet to come actually try to run. He was desperate to meet his family…,” says Sister Snehal.
The nurses say it is their counseling and interaction that helps patients to settle down and fight the COVID-19 challenge. “We counsel them, we interact with them, we cite them instances of how so many patients have recovered. It takes quite some time for the patients to settle down. But once they realise that coronavirus will not harm them, they are at peace with themselves,” says Sister Priyanka. “They are concerned about themselves as well as their families. They worry that their family members will also get because of them,” adds Sister Snehal.
Recounting an instance about the fear factor among people, Sister Mahadevi Zambre said, “Two members of a family were tested positive. This included a 17-year-old girl. There were 12 members of the family who were brought were tested. When two were tested positive, they all started crying loudly. The worried girl was running all over the place. Her mother was saying instead she should have got it. It took quite a while for us to calm them down. Two of them recovered and have been discharged,” she said.
Sister Zambre says patients have only one thought with them. “They think they will not recover. They keep asking all negative questions with fear writ large on their faces. I think there is very little awareness among people that a large number of coronavirus patients are getting well,” she said.
Zambre says when the first patient came to the hospital on February 24, they were all scared. “But our doctors led by physician Dr Kiran Khalate trained us in taking care of the patients and ourselves. This has helped us develop confidence and now corona fear does not exist among us,” she says.