World Health Day is observed on April 7 to raise awareness about various health issues. The theme for the year 2020 is International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, to honour them for working on the frontline to keep patients healthy.
On this occasion, indianexpress.com spoke to Girja Sharma, chief nursing office, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, to know about her life as a nurse, especially at the time of the coronavirus crisis.
Read what she said, in her own words:
‘I am the first nurse in my family’
“I have been in this profession for the past 35 years. I started training in 1980 and passed out in 1983. Since then I have worked in several places, from Kashmir to Saudi Arabia, as a staff nurse. There was no nurse in my entire family before me; I am the first. I was perhaps 13 or 14 years old when I felt fascinated on seeing a nurse in her uniform at a hospital in Kashmir one day. Since then, I had this secret desire in me to become a nurse when I grow up.
Nursing as a profession was not considered very respectable in the society at that time. My father objected to my decision of wanting to become a nurse. But I was adamant and finally managed to convince him, and took up the profession. Initially, there were not too many challenges. My mother was there to take care of everything. Then I got married when I came back to the country after completing my stint in Saudi Arabia. Yes, I faced some challenges in terms of balancing my personal and professional life but I have to thank my husband who till date has been extremely supportive. He took care of our two children as I did night shifts at the hospital during the initial phase. We were living with our in-laws at that time, so they took care of our kids’ food and other needs when they were young. Of course, my children would sometimes feel bad about their mother being away but they gradually got used to it. I made sure that I spent some time with my kids after work. I also took the required leaves from work to be able to do so or went on family holidays. Somehow, both of us managed to raise our children properly.
‘I try to keep my team motivated’
As nurses, we are meant to follow protocol to keep the hospital space healthy and safe. Once we take care of that, there is no panic about being exposed to health risks. I am still going to the hospital, I did not skip even a single shift amid the coronavirus crisis. Almost 500 nurses report to me at this point; if I sit at home, what would be their motivation level? Right now, I am not feeling too anxious because I know about the infection protocol. We are taking the necessary measures for protection. That said, there are many young nurses — those who are working with infected patients closely — who are scared indeed. But it is my responsibility to take care of them during that time. I try to keep my team motivated; check their nutritional and hydration levels, make sure they take all the required precautions, and keep them updated with all informaton. When I am on duty, I visit all sections of the hospital and keep talking to my colleagues and boosting their spirits.
Unlike others who are working from home, we have to go to the hospital. And my family is supportive of that. My husband drops me every morning to the hospital and picks me up in the evening. We got a pass from the hospital after the lockdown, so that it is easier for us to commute. Before my husband leaves for the hospital in the evening, he switches on the geyser so that I can take a shower as soon as I reach home, sanitise myself and change into fresh clothes. And then I get back to my daily routine. My daughter is working from home and my son is in Dubai now. All of us chat daily and talk about taking necessary measures to keep ourselves safe. It is all about how well you can take all precautions.”
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