Joining the COVID-19 management team was not a decision to be made in a hurry. Safety was paramount in order to guarantee maximum input and an optimal outcome.
The Global Impact and Local Pressure
Across the globe confirmed cases of COVID was beginning to skyrocket with the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed by the disease. Figures that stood at thousands was beginning to run into millions
Every day at work was a major risk whether we were positioned at the emergency unit or the general outpatient department, a lot of patients were coming down with respiratory symptoms in keeping with COVID-19. And a huge number of them were in respiratory distress. It was obvious that the transmission has hit at the community level
Government across countries declared a lockdown – some total lockdown while others were partial. With this, the economy suffered a major hit. So things were tensed across all front. Being a healthcare worker was even more challenging because one has to go out daily to confront the monster”COVID”
Soon the government owned isolation and treatment center were overwhelmed with COVID-19 positive cases with growing number of death each day and hence the private healthcare providers were now being allowed to admit and managed COVID cases.
Getting Ready To Manage COVID
In my center, with the daily COVID positive patients seen especially coming in a bad condition with glaring poor prognostic factors, it became imminent that something had to be done and that is to strengthen and hasten a COVID management team which was already in the pipeline.
We had serial training on donning and doffing of PPEs and other needed procedures. We constantly on such training reminded ourselves the precautionary measures as doctors and other workers in the forefront.
Now the question of who would be in the managing team became an object of discuss. However, there were people who by virtue of the program they running and others by their vulnerability to the disease were already ruled out and so the number of doctors available to managed COVID cases narrowed to a few of us whom I would term “pragmatic” for reason I would not divulge.
The Initial Resistance
Some of us resisted the initial move for many reasons. For me, the questions were. 1. Do we have enough PPE on ground? 2. Do we have enough support as regarding man power 3. Do we have enough moral and psychological support behind those that would make up the team. 4. Is the designated facility for positive cases in good shape? 5. Do we have a backup plan should any of use contract the disease?
The answers to these questions were in affirmative but then I wasn’t so comfortable with the nature of the PPEs. My other colleagues shared the same opinion and hence we were promised a better refashioning of the PPE. However, the meeting ended with many of us including me not agreeing with the management representatives.
I remember making a controversial comment which was in response to what I sensed was a form of coercive approach rather than dialogue. We were told that “it is compulsory but not mandatory” for us to be part of the COVID team. Other words like “it could be your parents or any relative with COVID or even anyone of us the doctors” were used.
So in response to these, I said ” Over time, it seem to me that our senior colleagues in these profession, have always used a form of blackmail to push us into doing things”. Perhaps I could have used a more refined method to say it. I was asked to retrieved those words but I didn’t.
I understood that the management was greatly worried about the growing cases of COVID positive patient the hospital was seeing on daily basis and they needed to do something urgent to help but I wasn’t about to be coerced into works without having to think about my safety first.
To save the day, two doctors accepted the offer and the remaining of us were to give our feedback later. Well, at this point, it was certain that we all have to join the COVID team but not without putting up the initial resistance like we did and this was aimed at garnering a better equipped and improved team. And the gimmick played our well.
Joining the COVID-19 management team was inevitable we knew but the initial resistance was necessary.
Managing COVID-19 patients left it toll on us. For me, it was a mentally, physically and emotionally draining experience. Most patients presented late and in bad state and as the doctor, everyone expected a miracle, a sudden turnaround and you must give it your all.
NEXT EPISODE: COPING WITH STRESS WHILE MANAGING COVID-19 CASES