May 11, 2021 8:13:33 pm
Sunita Khatgaonkar, the 52-year-old matron at Sassoon General Hospital, has lost count of the number of times her nurses have broken down due to the stress of handling Covid-19 patients as well as managing their own homes. “I particularly remember how a young nurse, who had to keep her six-month-old baby at home, returned to Covid duty, making the patient her top priority. It is as if somewhere the mother in them awakens when they see the patients lying on the hospital bed, just waiting for the personal touch from doctors and nurses,” she said.
Of the 1,098 nurses at Sassoon General Hospital, as many as 699 are engaged in caring for Covid-19 patients.
At KEM Hospital, 41-year-old sister-in-charge Surekha Janjire recently recovered from coronavirus infection. She has not only joined duty but also helped in setting up another Covid ICU. She said that during the first wave of infections last year, the level of fear was high even among healthcare workers.
“This time round, during the second wave, the death rate in patients is high and even if our nurses are stressed… there is constant counselling from our seniors. Basic tips like not working on an empty stomach and taking care of oneself while attending a Covid-19 patient is emphasised,” she said.
On the occasion of the International Nurses Day and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, on May 12, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the importance of nurses who have been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play, the WHO has said. The theme for this year is `Nursing the World to Health’ and despite the dismal nurse to patient ratio, these healthcare workers have been at the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic.
These include young nurses like 26-year-old Poonam Pawar and 28-year-old Seema Bhattacharya from Noble Hospital, who have seen Covid-19 patients in the 30-50 age group dying despite their best efforts. “Some look so helpless… specially young adults… and there is a constant fear that they may not make it,” said Pawar.
While her mother and brother, both in Surat, have tested positive for Covid-19, Pawar said she can’t leave the patients she is looking after and presently can only make video calls to counsel them.
Nisha Khude, 38, from Sanjeevan Hospital said she had been spending more time with Covid-19 patients during the second wave as most are worried about their recovery.
“We keep counselling the patients that they will be taken care of,” said Khude, who has a six-year-old son. `”He does not see me the entire day and at night, I do not allow him to sleep next to me. Only of late, he has started understanding a bit about the Covid-19 issue,” she said.
Praisy Varghese (45), head of nursing at Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre, admitted to feeling scared at times. “My husband is abroad and I live with my 14-year-old son. For the last one-and-a-half years, he has been alone at home watching video games and TV while I am at the hospital. Since I am working in a high-risk area, there is always a constant worry that he should not get the infection,” she admitted.
Shweta Gaikwad, a nurse who also works in a Covid ward, said she was grateful for the emotional support that Jehangir Hospital offers its nurses.
Dr Rajendra Patankar, CEO at Jupiter Hospital, summed up the feeling of gratitude that the medical fraternity has for these frontline workers. “Our nurses have emerged as our real warriors against Covid-19. They have gone beyond the call of duty with dedication, empathy, compassion and purpose. Doctors could not have performed their duties without their relentless support,” he said.
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