Coping with the stress of managing COVID-19 patient is one of the most difficult aspect of the COVID-19 era
Medical practice is mentally straining generally and often requires tenacity and resilience for one to survive it. However managing acutely ill patients with high demand for attention carries with it a heightened risk of mental breakdown for healthcare workers responsible for such patients.
This was the case with managing COVID-19. We were constantly on our toes ensuring the right treatment and interventions are done to curtail the growing global mortality from the disease. Being called up to act quickly and yet with caution so you don’t get infected makes it more cumbersome and overwhelming
As health personnel, we were poised between patients’ urgent need for care and personal caution because any breach in the protective measures could just be the window to catch COVID. But yet you must intervene.
For instance, a patient who is hypoxic from poor oxygen saturation despite on intranasal oxygen might pull of his oxygen connection or even intravenous access in desperation. That’s a kind of patient whom you will need to quickly attend to.
Working long hours without resting does not only impact negatively on the physical body but also stretches the mental capacity beyond ability to cope. And yet you must do it because you don’t want to put the life of others at risk
We were managing a very infectious diseases with high rated risk of transmission and hence limiting contact was paramount. As a result, once you are in, you have work for a certain period before you are substituted by another person. So we found ourselves within this circuit of mental defacto
Dealing with patients’ loved ones was another level of stress. As of the norm, for concerns about their relatives or loved ones admitted into the isolation ward for COVID-19, there was always a good number of people wanting update. Since they were not allowed into the isolation ward, they usually would wait till the doctors come out to get updated.
We made sure every person that had their loved one on admission and had the legal right to know about the condition were carried along. Diagnosis, prognosis and line of management were discussed.
Whilst some patient relative or caregivers understood what was at stake, others looked remote from reality because despites overwhelming evidence, they still were adamant they was nothing like COVID-19. These are the set of people who made work unbearable. They question every detail given, they want to break the contact barrier, want to combine traditional and orthodox medications for their persons.They want to be talked to every hour.
The pressure were coming from senior colleagues who were interested in positive outcome and also interesting in knowing how well we are fairing. So it was a mixed duty for them. They wanted to know patients are improving and that we are doing what needed to be done and then they also understood we had to be kept in check to prevent any of us coming down with the disease. This means while they give “a pat on the back” with one hand, the other hand is pushing you forward saying “go on, you guys can do it”.
The summation of these whole saga, is that we at the center of the job understood clearly what we were up against, and realized the import of continuing optimal care and yet to do that with caution. We empathized with patients and their loved once and so were ready and committed to rendering services.
The fact that we had people recovering even those with very poor prognostic factors was sufficient enough to push us to doing more with much enthusiasm. We lost patients too and it is usually devastating each time it occurs but we took solace in those who recovered
The fact that we could look back and the support from colleagues was constantly assured, kept us moving. The management was constantly improving the working dynamics to ensure we stay and remained safe. Its priority to maintain positive outcome for patient and relatives and to ensure its staff are protected remained unparalleled
Coping with the stress of managing COVID-19 patients was possible basically because the needed support was available
NEXT EPISODE – ON THE BRINK OF MY MENTAL BREAKDOWN