Ever Wondered How It Is To Serve On The Frontline In This COVID-19 Pandemic?

This week, Snapee brings to you exclusive insight into the life of a nurse currently serving on the frontline during COVID-19 pandemic.

Background information

Amanda* is a 27 years old Nurse currently working at a hospital as an inpatient nurse in a general medical ward that takes up medical cases which falls out of specific categories – cardiovascular, neurology, renal, etc. She has a degree and 1 year of working experience in Nursing.

Growing up as a Christian in a church that is strongly centred on missionary outreach, she saw how the locals in developing countries lacked access to basic healthcare. This sparked her interest and desire to make a difference through the Nursing profession.

Disclaimer: This is Amanda’s* personal work experience and may not be a good representation of all hospital practices. Names have been changed at the request of the interviewee to protect her identity.

How is working life Pre-COVID and Post-COVID?

Pre-COVID: As an inpatient nurse in a general medical ward, I took care of mostly elderly patients between the ages of 70 – 80 years old. Most of them have difficulties in activity of daily living (ADL), hence my work consists of feeding, bathing, or bringing them to the toilet. Essentially, a nurse’s job is to watch and care for the patients 24/7. Some of our daily tasks include:

  • Monitoring their conditions

  • Informing doctors on changes or deterioration

  • Coordinating with other departments for scans and tests

  • Serving medication and food

Needless to say, we also render basic care such as cleaning a body after death or clearing faeces for patients with ADL.

Post-COVID: You have to don the full personal protection equipment (PPE) which includes – N95, face shield OR googles, hairnet, PPE gown, gloves, shoes which we cannot bring home, and shoe cover. We are also required to shower in the hospital at the end of our shifts. On top of routine nurse activities, there are additional protocols for new admissions and transfers, such as:

  • Swabbing of patients

  • Liaison with stakeholders to ensure zero bystanders in the immediate vicinity of a confirmed COVID-19 case

  • Orientation on aftercare for discharged patients

The workflow and demands pre and post COVID are very different and cannot be compared, with very different patient profiles – elderly vs generally fit migrant workers. The learning curve for both is steep in their own ways.

What happens when a patient is admitted to your ward?

Metaphorically speaking, my ward takes care of patients who are in between Community Care Facility (CCF) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU), basically, those who are sicker than usual but not in critical condition. We care for them until they are well enough to be transferred to CCF, or if their condition worsens, to ICU. My patients consist of mostly new diagnoses who are infectious and carry some or all of the symptoms – high fever, sore throat, cough, some with other premorbid conditions that may complicate the healing process.

How is your ward like in terms of space?

The number varies between all hospitals. However, every hospital would ensure a comfortable setting with sufficient space to practice social distancing.

How are your patients’ health conditions - can they talk, walk, interact with one another?

My ward consists of generally fit migrant worker patients with varied conditions, but most are quite stable with the ability to do the above-mentioned. However, there is still a handful that is sicker and requires more medical attention such as the need for intravenous drip for hydration.

If they get too sick, we would usually transfer them to ICU, depending on the medical team’s decision.

How are you coping with this epidemic as a frontline worker?

It was overwhelming at first, with a lot to adapt and learn. I felt that I had to relearn everything again because of the new protocols and changes.

Source: Straitstimes

For example, wearing the full PPE for an average of 6 hours consecutively a day, I can’t scratch my face, drink water, or pee unless I don out. I felt nauseous the first few times due to the amount of gear on my face and couldn’t breathe properly. It is even harder to breathe through an N95 compared to a surgical mask. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that Singapore has enough PPE. We try to use as minimal as possible for each shift, but we can come out of them for a break in between shifts and change into a new PPE.

The biggest worry for me, which I’m sure is the same for many others in the frontline, is the what if. What if I get it or worse, spread to my loved ones? What if I cause my ward a huge inconvenience because I get it?

So, the promise I have made to myself is to practice infection control to the best of my ability. I moved out of my household before the start of circuit breaker to protect my vulnerable family members. I also bring my worries to God and pray for myself and my family.

Any words of encouragement to your patients who are fighting against COVID-19?

Since most of my patients are migrant workers, I’ll specifically encourage them.

Thank you, sir, for coming here, leaving your family to build Singapore. We have what we have now also because of you. Although it is horrible that you have to go through this, alone in a foreign country, with a lot of uncertainty and what ifs, I just want to let you know that you’re not alone. Singapore, the healthcare workers, and all of us are with you, praying for you, fighting with you. You’ve taken care of us, now let us take care of you. We hope that you’ll have a fast recovery and can go home to see your family soon!

As Singapore transition to Circuit Breaker Phase 1, the one thing that we can all take away from this crisis is how essential our health is. Snapee would like to urge all users to take care of their health by eating healthy - and this week's quest theme is salad! Join our weekly quest by taking and sending us a picture of your salad on our telegram bot (@Snapee_bot) to be entitled to additional 1,000 snapcoins this week*!

Quest ends 14th June 2020, 2359 hours

Stephanie Ang

Dreams about travelling, eating, and making a billion bucks.

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