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International Nurses Day 2021: 52-year-old COVID Warrior Maria Feels Blessed Being On The Frontlines

International Nurses Day 2021: Meet 52-year-old Maria Rodrigues, an Infection Control Nurse at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, says she has not seen an outbreak as severe as COVID-19 in 28 year career

International Nurses Day 2021: 52-year-old COVID Warrior Maria Feels Blessed Being On The Frontlines
Highlights
  • As Infection Control Nurse, Ms Rodrigues’ work to tackle COVID began in Jan
  • Family’s support and spirituality helps me work on frontlines: Ms Rodrigues
  • Ms Rodrigues urges people to follow COVID precautions & eat a healthy diet

New Delhi: “The COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020 but our fight against the novel coronavirus began in January itself, right after the outbreak was reported in China’s Wuhan. As an infection control nurse, I and my team had to gear up for training sessions for all the employees of Jaslok. We had to learn the COVID protocols and keep ourselves updated with the latest guidelines so that we can educate our colleagues about the same”, said Maria Rodrigues. 52-year-old Ms Rodrigues is an Infection Control Nurse at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai and has been in this profession for 28 years but this is the first time she has seen an outbreak of such intensity. On the occasion of International Nurses Day 2021, Ms Rodrigues spoke to NDTV at length about her role in the COVID-19 pandemic and what is it to be at the frontline.

Also Read: International Nurses Day 2021 Seeks To Set A Roadmap For Future Of Nursing

Though the preparations to deal with SARS-CoV-2 began in January 2020, as per Ms Rodrigues, the real challenge came up when Jaslok Hospital opened up the entire floor to COVID-19 patients and the hospital started reporting an increase in the inflow of patients.

International Nurses Day 2021: 52-year-old COVID Warrior Maria Feels Blessed Being On The Frontlines

Maria Rodrigues, Infection Control Nurse

Our job involves educating medical and public health professionals on infection prevention protocols to facilitate emergency preparedness. But our job doesn’t end there. We had to work round the clock to ensure COVID protocols are followed at all levels. If there is any discrepancy, we report it and take measures to correct it. We also check on patients and do audits, she said.

As the pandemic progressed, Ms Rodrigues’ role evolved and she and her team were given more duties like assisting in the process of RT-PCR testing including sample collection and vaccinating healthcare workers and other beneficiaries. Throughout, one of the biggest challenges Ms Rodrigues faced was the burden of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially N-95 mask.

In this humid weather, we literally get drenched in sweat after wearing PPE. Also, PPE puts you down a bit; working without any PPE was different and faster. But then you have no other choice. You need to protect yourself, your family and whoever you come in contact with. The silver lining is that we, infection control nurses, don’t work in COVID wards all day. We take rounds and come back within three to four hours, said Ms Rodrigues.

Also Read: COVID Warrior: Gujarat Doctor Highlights The After-effects Of Wearing PPE Through His Sweat-drenched Photo

She also informed that healthcare workers have to wear different levels of PPE in different zones. Like in non-COVID zones, level 2 PPE needs to be worn. This includes gown, head cover, N-95 mask, and goggles. Whereas, in COVID zones, level 3 PPE is used which includes gloves, laboratory coats, gowns, goggles, glasses with side shields, shoe covers, face shields and masks.

In level 3, there is a sequence to be followed while wearing and taking off PPE. In medical language, it is called donning and doffing off PPE. It’s crucial to take off the PPE in an appropriate manner because the majority of infections happen during doffing off PPE, said Ms Rodrigues.

Family And Spirituality: The Two Pillars Of Sister Maria Rodrigues

Ms Rodrigues lives with her husband, 90-year-old mother-in-law, 25-year-old son and a brother-in-law and together they are fighting the pandemic, said the COVID warrior. When Ms Rodrigues had to lay off the house help due to COVID restrictions, everyone in the family stepped up and shared the load of the household work. The family was never scared of Ms Rodrigues going to work during COVID-19 or coming back home after being on COVID duty. In fact, they never stopped her from performing her job.

Also Read: International Nurses Day 2021: 10 Lesser Known Facts About Nurses And Why They Are A Critical Part Of The Pool Of Healthcare Infrastructure

When neighbours were against me going to work because of the high risk of infection, it was my mother-in-law, a nurse herself, who stood by my side and questioned those neighbours and asked, ‘If not healthcare workers then who?’ When I come back home, my husband keeps the shower room and food ready for me. My family has been my biggest support system throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, we are very well taken care of by our hospital; we get proper off days, high-quality PPE and masks and good food, said Ms Rodrigues.

The COVID warrior says that it’s her god and spirituality that motivate her to continue working and not fear COVID-19. She starts and ends her day by worshipping and reading scriptures. What adds to this are the blessings she receives from patients and their families.

We really are blessed to be in this profession, she said.

Follow COVID Precautions And Fight The Second Wave: COVID Warrior

I have seen the SARS outbreak, swine flu, and bird flu but even then we could accommodate patients on one floor. People need to understand the severity of the COVID-19. In the second wave of the pandemic, mortality and severity is same but we are seeing more people requiring oxygen support, said Ms Rodrigues.

Also Read: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start

To overcome the second wave of coronavirus, Ms Rodrigues urged everyone to follow all COVID precautions that are handwashing, wearing a double face mask, practising social distancing. Along with this, she suggested taking more liquids and a healthy diet.

Housekeeping staff and nurses ask ‘when will this end’ but we too don’t have an answer to this question. I ask them to pray and keep everyone in their prayers. I would request everyone to avoid going out until it’s really needed. Healthcare workers are already struggling and they are trying to help you out. There is also a limit to everything so please stay indoors and safe. Also, don’t be scared, be cautious. Fear is the worst enemy of a human being, said Ms Rodrigues.

Also Read: Young Doctors Becoming COVID-19 Patients’ Best Buddies In Hospitals Through Song, Dance, Motivation

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 (WaterSanitation 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 pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

26,78,24,983Cases
22,84,48,447Active
3,40,97,388Recovered
52,79,148Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,78,24,983 and 52,79,148 have died; 22,84,48,447 are active cases and 3,40,97,388 have recovered as on December 9, 2021 at 3:47 am.

India

3,46,66,241 9,419Cases
94,742 1,009Active
3,40,97,388 8,251Recovered
4,74,111 159Deaths
In India, there are 3,46,66,241 confirmed cases including 4,74,111 deaths. The number of active cases is 94,742 and 3,40,97,388 have recovered as on December 9, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,40,888 893

9,964 157

64,89,720 1,040

1,41,204 10

Kerala

51,78,892 5,038

41,615 887

50,95,263 4,039

42,014 112

Karnataka

29,99,098 399

7,284 155

29,53,565 238

38,249 6

Tamil Nadu

27,32,648 703

7,946 36

26,88,142 728

36,560 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,74,217 181

2,011 3

20,57,749 176

14,457 2

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,502 10

139 7

16,87,452 3

22,911

West Bengal

16,20,803 574

7,576 0

15,93,659 568

19,568 6

Delhi

14,41,514 65

404 28

14,16,010 36

25,100 1

Odisha

10,50,760 255

1,931 11

10,40,403 264

8,426 2

Chhattisgarh

10,07,075 37

341 9

9,93,140 27

13,594 1

Rajasthan

9,54,984 40

236 16

9,45,792 24

8,956

Gujarat

8,27,873 67

417 45

8,17,361 22

10,095

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,288 14

140 1

7,82,619 13

10,529

Haryana

7,71,904 29

223 15

7,61,626 14

10,055

Bihar

7,26,259 9

36 6

7,14,133 3

12,090

Telangana

6,77,546 205

3,871 19

6,69,673 185

4,002 1

Assam

6,18,042 134

2,541 24

6,09,374 158

6,127

Punjab

6,03,578 22

350 0

5,86,614 20

16,614 2

Jharkhand

3,49,383 16

129 7

3,44,113 23

5,141

Uttarakhand

3,44,402 17

192 3

3,36,799 14

7,411

Jammu And Kashmir

3,38,198 151

1,639 38

3,32,070 111

4,489 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,27,753 69

722 14

2,23,174 81

3,857 2

Goa

1,79,307 65

441 37

1,75,478 28

3,388

Mizoram

1,37,377 320

3,049 10

1,33,819 309

509 1

Puducherry

1,29,128 23

230 1

1,27,022 22

1,876

Manipur

1,25,429 23

325 5

1,23,119 28

1,985

Tripura

84,888 14

94 11

83,968 3

826

Meghalaya

84,631 12

240 11

82,916 23

1,475

Chandigarh

65,515 7

67 2

64,628 5

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,298 3

29 2

54,989 5

280

Sikkim

32,390 8

200 2

31,785 6

405

Nagaland

32,143 1

116 2

31,328 3

699

Ladakh

21,749 14

230 17

21,304 31

215

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

0 0

10,679

4

Lakshadweep

10,405

11 0

10,343

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,691 1

3 0

7,559 1

129

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