The calling
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - March 28, 2020 - 12:00am

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of our frontliners while in the performance of their duty, providing care for our sick brothers and sisters. And in the span of few days, we have lost at least nine already. And we don’t know how many important lives will be lost in the coming days as they are in direct contact with the victims. This is their calling. Even how risky it is, this is what they have sworn before men and God --to be instruments for healing, as extensions of God’s healing power.

For our nurses, in their Florence Nightingale pledge, they pledge before God and in the presence of the assembly to pass their lives in purity and to practice their profession faithfully. And for our doctors, the Hippocratic Oath, one of the oldest binding documents in history, written by Hippocrates is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of their ability. There are even retired healthcare workers who have volunteered their services despite their vulnerability.

The role of medical caretakers in an epidemic like during MERS-CoV in the underlying phases of the episode, hospital activity carried on not surprisingly, with little change happening to the ER triage or admission procedures. Thus, very little disease-specific screening or isolation for patients occurred. Testing required as long as 24 hours to affirm a plausible case and the underlying manifestations were incredibly normal. After some time, as more people died and healthcare workers fell ill, hospital staff started to advocate for better communication, increasingly thorough education and methods, explicit to an epidemic.

During an epidemic, all usual essential tasks must be completed for the patient, but they are frequently intensified. Having a large surge of very ill patients puts a stress on the entire healthcare system. Also, many of the procedures that nurses initiate, such as deep breathing and coughing, assisting with bronchoscopy, intubation/extubation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, etc. may be the method of aerosolization of coronavirus

Fear is undoubtedly an unavoidable by-product of an outbreak of a deadly virus. Patients, their families and healthcare workers felt anxious when they came into contact with any person who was coughing or looking generally unwell during the time of the epidemic. Caring for fellow nurses and other colleagues who had contracted the virus added a new layer of complication and emotional stress.

Of all the health professions, nurses invest the most energy in an up close and personal discussion with patients. Patients seek nurses for direction and information. While most patients in the hospital are already worried because of the sickness that brought them there, patients experienced considerably higher stress because of the obscure variables during the plague. During this pestilence, there was additionally a trust issue, as patients accepted that information even about their own diagnosis was being withheld. Moreover, nurses were the main educators and resource for information with customary correspondence to both their families and companions about the sickness.

I have relatives and friends who are in the healthcare sector, and whatever they are in, is not a career upon which they can or should embark unless they are dedicated to it. There is an everyday challenge of providing a service where their actions directly affect a person’s life, requiring them to always put the patient first. This can mean working late when someone is sick, putting a uniform on and working nights when their friends are dressed up and out doing something else. In this trying time, our healthcare workers are our soldiers against this deadly enemy. And with ardent prayers we can win this battle.

We salute you our frontliners: doctors, nurses and the entire healthcare workers. God bless and protect you.

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