“Is there a bed available?” has become a common question amongst people as they try to reach their family member or colleague or friend to a safe place with medical assistance.
‘Patient traffic’, has become a vital usage amongst the medical fraternity. It is the highest ever patient traffic Oman could have seen in the medical history. Many of the people who develop the symptoms of Covid-19 stay in isolation and manage to recover. Others have had to seek hospital stays and even the ICU with ventilator support. While medicine has been doing its part, the fear of the mind has been challenging to tackle.
Anonymously speaking, a doctor who works at an ICU confessed, “After months of treating people for Covid-19 has taken its toll on many of the frontliners.”
The situation is nothing compared to last year. He said, “Front liners experience exhaustion as cases are increasing. Many of the workers had not taken leave. Most of us are vaccinated but not all in the medical fraternity. It is our duty, and we are proud to be there for the community, but when we go home, we worry about our family's safety. We need the family members’ support because talking help and those of them who are away from families, the loneliness is tough to cope with in the present scenario.”
This year another aspect that has been disturbing is the young patients who succumbed to the virus. What has been noted is the severity of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
“It is difficult to see young patients develop lung fibrosis. In some cases, we can bring back the patients and unable to do so in other situations. The infection gets complicated with patients who have sugar, hypertension, or asthma. Still, currently, it can become complicated for anyone even if one does not have these conditions. It has been noticed that by the fifth day, the oxygen saturation comes down.”
The fear of contracting, passing it on to family members, and the intensity of the battle with Covid-19 has been exhausting. The fear is part of the reality because, on May 9, 2021, a 32-year-old nurse Ramya M Rajan, who worked at Rustaq Hospital, succumbed to Covid-19 after battling it out for weeks at a government hospital. The team tried the best, but the complications were far too many, and she has left behind a three-year-old daughter and her husband.
It is this side of Covid-19 that makes it even more critical for the general public to keep in mind as the nation needs its health workers more than ever before.
“As we all know, the doctors and nurses have been looking to save lives and have been enduring so much. I have been told that some of them have rented houses to not go home straight from the hospital. As a clinic and as part of mental health awareness, we focus on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when it comes to doctors, nurses and medical care in general. From the beginning, we have been there for them. Recently, we have collaborated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health to do a programme called ‘Pause, Breathe and Choose’. This programme is to support the medical fraternity, and on the page, you can see a lot of messages for them. We support each other as both parties are in medical care. The idea is that you need a little time for yourself to pause a bit and breathe and choose whether you want to look after yourself or not. Of course, doctors and nurses will be concerned about their patients, but it is also important to look after their wellbeing because this will have a long-term effect, and that is why we talk a lot about PTSD. They should be able to talk about what they are feeling as they have their own family but have been looking after our family members even before them,” explained HH Sayyida Basma al Said, Psychologist and founder of Whispers of Serenity, mental health clinic.
Some of the symptoms they go through are PTSD, anxiety, depression, and even OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They have to continuously cleanse themselves more than us because of their job nature, explained Sayyida Basma.
The concerns go on as the ICU doctor pointed out, “The need for N95 masks and Personal Protective Equipment have to be of the right fitting otherwise there is potential leakage through which the virus can pass through. And there must be regular availability.”