Kathmandu: Nurses look after their patients until they recover, and they continue to do so even in this pandemic. But this time it’s different. Different because at the end of the day, they are alone and isolated. They are scared to be near their loved ones because of the fear of infecting them. And yet, they come to work the next day and fulfill their duty without any hesitation.
Sarita Shrestha, a nursing officer who is also a Covid ICU in charge at Bir Hospital, has been working endlessly in the ICU ward amidst the Covid patients. She has been currently taking care of nine patients who are in critical condition in the ICU. “My job has been very hectic ever since the second wave struck. On the one hand, patients have been increasing in number, but on the other hand, there are not enough beds for the infected,” says Shrestha.
Her woes don’t stop there. At the end of the day, Shrestha wants to be with her family, but she is also scared of infecting her family members. She is concerned about her family’s well-being and keeps herself isolated. She states in despair, “I have a son, a husband, and my in-laws living under the same roof, and I usually isolate myself from them as much as possible to keep them safe.”
This fear of infecting her family members keeps her up at night.
This fear of infecting her family members keeps her up at night. She wants to sit beside them, talk with them, and share her day at work and all the hardships she went through. She wants to be consoled by her family when she feels sorrowful. Instead, she isolates herself, intending to keep her family safe. She consoles herself and keeps herself sane because she has no choice. “I get terrified even when I hear a sneeze from my son. I am scared that my family might have to suffer a terrible consequence because of me,” shared Shrestha. Still, she fights this fear and shows up to work the next day without any qualms.
While managing the ICU ward, she stumbles upon various obstacles, and one of them is the lack of staff. “Under my guidance, there are 27 nurses, and there is at least one of them testing positive every day, leading to the lack of nurses,” grumbles Shrestha.
She added that this shortage is not just of the staff but also of ICU beds and oxygen, and these shortages have made her job even more problematic.
She thinks that the government could have done a much better job with the availability of the ICU beds, especially at Bir Hospital. “Bir Hospital can easily accommodate 500 beds, including 70 ICU beds, along with an oxygen plant in the new surgical block. If the government had planned this two months ago, we would not be facing this nightmare now,” said she.
She still urges the government to take this seriously and start working on the plan, which according to her, can be completed in three months.
Shrestha also revealed several patients who lost their lives during the treatment and the sadness she felt seeing so many people losing their loved ones. “ A 22-year-old male patient died from pneumonia induced due to Covid. It left me heartbroken to see a young soul depart,” regrets Shrestha,
Coronavirus has evidently terrorized all of us, but many hard workers like Shrestha have been holding back their fear and contributing their service selflessly in this pandemic.
“When we lose patients on the ventilator, I cannot help but think if we could at least give them a chance to say goodbye to their family or talk one last time by removing them from the ventilator? It seems like the right thing to do at that moment but I can’t disregard the protocol,” she further added.
Nevertheless, she handles herself and does not let her emotions affect her work. “I have been a nurse for 26 years. I have come across many mishaps in my career and this experience has helped me a lot in this situation,” says she.
She requests every citizen to follow the Covid protocol to prevent the virus from spreading any further. In severe cases or a decrease in oxygen level (less than 92), she suggests everyone reach out to the emergency ward of hospitals nearby rather than wait until it’s too late.
Coronavirus has evidently terrorized all of us, but many hard workers like Shrestha have been holding back their fear and contributing their service selflessly in this pandemic. She says that all she hopes for now is this pandemic to end so that no more lives are lost; till then, she vows to continue her service to the ones that are in dire need.