- Ms Agnes is Head Nurse of the COVID-19 ward in Mumbai’s Sevenhills Hospital
- She was responsible for setting up the COVID-19 ward
- Ms Agnes trained her nursing team for the COVID duty
New Delhi: Agnes heads the nursing department in Sevenhills hospital, a COVID-19 facility in Mumbai that’s partly managed by Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital. It is one of the first COVID-19 hospitals in India and Ms Agnes and her team, along with other staff from Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital have been posted at the hospital for COVID duty since March.
Utilising her 27-years of experience as a nurse, Ms Agnes was in charge of setting up the COVID-19 ward as well as grooming the entire team for their duty. Talking about her COVID duty, she tells NDTV,
At present, I’m heading the entire nursing department, from 9 am to 6:30-7 pm. Throughout our shift, we have to wear our scrubs, and then PPE kits, including gloves, masks, face shields. We have to work non-stop until we can take breaks which happens in every 5-6 hours on rotation. Working in a COVID-19 hospital, all the cases we get are serious and critical. Many of them are patients who are elderly have comorbidity. We also get some mentally challenged patients so we have to look after them as well.
Ms Agnes says that back in March when she was setting up the ward and training her team for the COVID duty, she observed that her team was extremely afraid of the job. Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, Ms Agnes says that people were very demotivated to take up the duty.
Initially, when we found out that we will be posted in the COVID ward, there was a sense of fear among everybody. My team were very sacred to go inside and see the patients, to take care of them. But as the head, it was my responsibility to make them comfortable with the duty. I talked to them, I was guiding them and had to support them through it. Their fear was valid, but we had a job at hand, a crucial one at that. I used to explain to them that if you are taking precautions, following protocols, guidelines and wearing PPE, you can be safe. It took quite some time to help them overcome the fear and it was my biggest challenge.
She further said that now, her very hardworking team is at a point, where they don’t worry about their shift timings, all they want to do is save lives.
Our job is to save the lives of many needy patients who have nobody but us to look after them, she added.
Ms Agnes says that they have to look after many elderly, critical patients, a lot of whom are aged above 80.
Right now, we have a patient who is 102-years-old, she said.
This, according to Ms Agnes, is challenging because their morale goes very down as soon as they get tested positive.
Elderly patients are most vulnerable to COVID-19 fatality and here they also don’t have the support of their family or loved one as they are isolated. We have to give them motivation, we indulge in conversations to distract them, we also make them DO video callS with their families. Because it’s just us, whom they have in the facility.
When it comes to COVID-19 testing of the staff, Ms Agnes says that the entire nursing staff in the Sevenhils hospital gets tested every alternate day using antigen tests and every week using an RT-PCR test.
Every time I have to get tested, I pray to God to spare me from the virus. It is a very nerve-racking situation, having to work on the frontline of the virus and getting tested every alternate day to ensure we are safe, she shared.
Ms Agnes has only visited her home once since March, as she and her entire team has to quarantine at a hotel accommodation, provided by the hospital to help save her family from contracting the coronavirus.
My family includes me, my husband, my daughter who is pursuing her masters and my son who is in 10th standard. I have not lived at home since March and only visited once this month, after getting tested thoroughly. My family had to adjust to my absence, take care of all the household chores and pray for my safety. It was a big adjustment and we all had to cope with it. Here at duty, my team, my managers, my staff, we are all like a family, living together at the hotel and are going through the same thing. It’s comforting in that manner.
Lastly, Ms Agnes highlights the importance of positivity through these tough times.
I always believe in positivity. If I am positive, I can learn, deal with any situation. I’m very thankful to God that I have been safe until now. And I believe that my positive nature makes others around me feel more positive be it my team or the patients. I truly feel that nursing is not only my profession, but it is also my calling.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.