Nurses play a key role in all of our medical institutions, being responsible for the welfare, safety and recovery of patients. Nurses have an enormous amount of knowledge and many diverse skills they spend years perfecting and developing, all the time working in decidedly tough environments where extreme stress is just a part of the job. Nurses help bring new life into the world, care tirelessly for the sick and injured, and sometimes watch the patients they did everything to save pass away despite their best efforts. On many occasions, it was a vigilant nurse who noticed a mistake in a doctor’s prescription in time to save someone’s life. 

As the world fights against the terrible COVID-19 pandemic, TC46 salutes the work of healthcare heroes – the nurses. To celebrate International Nurses Day, TC46 connected with Minimole Varghese, Chief of Nursing and Mohini Chandrashekhar, Chief Nursing Officer at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai to understand and acknowledge the hard work, long hours, and emotional duress that are part of the life of every nurse.

1. As a nurse, what is the one thing you’d like people to know about the profession?

Sister Minimole explained, “Nurses are guardian angels who cater to the needs of your loved ones. For patients to go back home healthy, both doctors and nurses play an equal role but the community needs to acknowledge it. Doctors attend patients during their daily rounds, which lasts for a few minutes, assess patients and prescribe treatments, but the nurses who stay with the patient each shift, carrying out the treatment protocols, comforting the patients & meeting basic needs require recognition too. And all the more during the pandemic when many nurses have sacrificed their family life, working hard-wearing the PPEs, despite seeing death face-to-face and yet keeping up the fight. Nursing graduates undergo 4 years of rigorous theoretical and practical training, but the respect and treatment of nurses in India are not what we deserve. We have seen young talented nurses taking every effort to migrate abroad seeking better opportunities. This is the reality and if it’s not addressed immediately our country is going to face a massive shortage of nurses that will lead to further collapse of healthcare in India.”

2. Can you share a patient story that touched your heart?

“I received a call at night from a woman who said, “Please help…I am dying”. Her husband was already admitted to our hospital with COVID-19, and I knew hers was an urgent appeal. She had become COVID positive a few days ago and was on treatment but her health had deteriorated. Thanks to the hospital authorities I could arrange for a bed for her. She was immediately admitted and within a span of 10 days, she completely recovered and was discharged. She came back to us saying that if she would have not got a bed that day, she would have died. She also mentioned that this incident taught her a lesson of being kind to others, just as she was overwhelmed with the kindness by the hospital authorities”, shares Sister Minimole.

3. What is the role a nurse plays when it comes to handling a patient and their family’s anxiety and emotions?

Sister Minimole said, “A patient who is COVID-19 positive undergoes a lot of stress and anxiety during the course of his/her illness. Patients are not only affected physically but also experience a whole lot of emotional instability due to the condition, being all alone in a hospital room with none of his/her relatives besides, no one with whom he/she can share feelings or needs with. During this crisis, it’s the nurse who stands strongly beside the patient. She is the one who is 24×7 with the patient. She helps the patient meet basic needs, plans and provides care, carrying out the treatment that is prescribed by the doctor. She provides the patient with emotional support and helps him to gain strength, both physical and emotional. She listens, teaches, instructs, corrects, and treats patients as her own family member. Even patients who cannot communicate, like the ones on ventilator support, are totally dependent on nurses for every single need. She mediates between the patient, doctor, and relatives playing the role of an advocate for the patient. She herself was in a PPE for 8 – 10 hours at a stretch without having water or using the washroom, cares for the patients meeting all their needs, and making their stay a memorable one. We have received tons of appreciation for the nurses working in the COVID19 units, where patients have given feedback that the nurses always provide care with a smile. Now, this is something to note that in spite of being in PPE, with their faces covered completely, the warmth of the smiles of these guardian angels reaches the patient making them better each day.”,

 4. Can you share your experience of being a nurse during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Mohini said, “The experience of being a nurse during a pandemic has been a difficult, challenging but enlightening one. Nurses have had to deal with a massive shift in protocol. The fear of getting infected is ever-present. Moreover, the vital link of communication with the patients has been cut short by the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the nurses have to wear. Being expressive and communicative with patients is no longer an option when their faces are covered with masks. It has also taught us to be quick in our thinking and has brought many changes to our standard protocol. It has also brought forward our strengths and weaknesses when faced with an event like this.”

5. What are some words of advice, caution or comfort you would like to share with the world as a frontline healthcare worker during Covid-19?

“My word of advice to people would be to keep hope, but not to take this situation lightly, especially now. Do not lower your guards. The healthcare teams will continue to strive to save and enrich lives, but personal responsibility counts for a lot during this time. Follow appropriate guidelines to make sure that you and others around you are safe. And finally, keep the spirit of hope up, it helps a lot in times like these”, shares Sister Mohini.

Help the frontline workers by fulfilling your duty and not believing any rumours about Covid-19 Vaccination. Here’s a quick video you need to watch!

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