Most of us witnessed the overwhelmed hospitals and mass graves for Covid-19 victims from behind a screen. Medical staff, on the other hand, have had to live through it in person. One shudders to think of how grueling that must be. Yet, this is the sacrifice we have been asking of them every day since the start of this pandemic.
Reports from around the world paint a bleak picture of how medical workers have been treated during this tragic period. So much so that, for some, downing their tools and staging protests was the only way to get themselves heard. In the backdrop of all this, the pandemic still lingers and we hope to get care should we fall ill.
So, how can we do better by healthcare workers?Let’s explore some options.
For a larger part of the on-going pandemic, the safety of medics has been compromised by a shortage of PPEs. In other instances, they have found themselves being issued with substandard gear that leaves them just as exposed as wearing none. This has led to protests across different countries including Peru, America and South Africa.
It is remiss of the rest of us to sit back and not do anything about the plight that doctors and nurses are facing. The truth is, they are not protesting for themselves, they are fighting to care for us in safe conditions. The least we can do is support their efforts by holding our leaders to account regarding these issues.
As evidenced by other diligent governments, it is not impossible to protect healthcare workers. The German government, for example, has equipped facilities with quality Hisomedical surgical gowns, face masks, and other protective gear. It is certainly an example worth emulating.
Designated Admission Beds
The chances of getting infected with Coronavirus in the line of duty are quite high. However, in most facilities, intensive care units are full as are the isolation wards. Most medics worry about what would happen to them if they were to fall sick.
According to Amnesty International, more than 7,000 healthcare workers have died due to the Covid-19. The actual figure may be much higher given as some countries have not been forthcoming with their numbers. It is, nonetheless, a cause for great concern.
In light of this, it would only be fair that hospitals set aside some resources for the care of their staff. More so because some of them have had to stay away from their families to shield them from the disease. They would have nowhere to isolate or receive care without risking the lives of their loved ones.
Speaking of protecting loved ones, it has been a trying time for the families of healthcare staff. At the end of every shift, most doctors say, they yearn to go home but they are also terrified to do so. Even after the intense disinfection protocols, it is difficult to be entirely sure that they are not carrying the disease home with them.
Due to this, most caregivers have had to find different accommodations. Never mind that their pay has remained the same despite these additional costs occasioned by the pandemic. Add to that the anguish of being away from family and you start to realize how heavy a burden this must be.
Ordinarily, doctors on call are assigned on-call rooms where they can retreat to. In these extraordinary times, more of these facilities should be made available even on a makeshift basis. No amount of clapping on our part will make up for a 24-hour shift that ended with a medic sleeping in their car.
Mental Health Support and Resources
The practice of medicine is riddled with traumatic experiences. Doctors and nurses are constantly in a fight against death. Still, the events that they have had to live through this year have been unusually devastating. Aside from the mass deaths, they have also had to worry about their own mortality. Some confess to having updated their wills and testaments just in case things went awry.
In the thick of things, there has not been much room to process the emotions from this pandemic. Nevertheless, it will be imperative that these brave men and women are given all the support that they. This would involve a concerted effort of both friends and family as well as mental health professionals. In the absence of such care, their emotional and mental health may take a toll on them in the long-run.
Imagine a situation where you worked so hard to buy someone a gift but they made no effort to show appreciation. It would sting, wouldn’t it? That is the same feeling that the medical fraternity may be experiencing as they watch people flaunting Covid-19 protocols.
Wearing masks and social distancing is no doubt exhausting and restricting but they are the only remedies available for now. If these rules are dismissed at the first sign of a dip in the curve, we run the risk of a second wave. Once more doctors will have to risk everything to save more lives. After everything they have been through, that would be quite unfortunate.
For a long time, the problems surrounding the health sector have been ignored. Perhaps it is time that we address them with the seriousness they deserve. Caring for health workers is as good a place to start as any.