With all efforts focused on treating and eradicating the coronavirus, nurses and medical staff are the nation’s hard workers who operate at the front lines. What major shifts have they noticed in their daily lives since the pandemic took hold?
“I’ve been a nurse for 25 years ago and it has been a very satisfying experience. I feel blessed that I am able to help the sick and the elderly. At this time when the entire world is depending on the medical and nursing profession to provide selfless care, I feel proud to be an essential worker,” said Harvinder (Rosy) Bhagat, a nurse and nominee for Nurse of the Year on International Nurses Day 2020.
While the nursing life may seem to be about acute medicine and surgery, she says that it is about care in any setting. During the pandemic, she was preparing to step up and help to the best of her ability.
“In our profession, there is always some form of exposure and risk involved. I was mentally prepared to risk exposure as long as I had appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). I was certainly not actively seeking it, but prepared for it,” she informed Indian Link.
Fortunately, her state of Victoria managed to flatten the curve by implementing appropriate measures, although the future remains uncertain.
“It is very important to continue being careful, sanitizing and maintaining social distance and getting tested to ensuring community safety and health. This COVID-19 uncertainty will continue and people will continue to be at risk, so now is certainly not the time to take the foot off the pedal,” she said.
In caring for the frail and sick during this time, she has become more appreciative of her family’s health, acknowledging that it’s also important to maintain positive and calm.
“I do think some changes in lifestyle will become permanent. Social distancing and hygienic practices will become a new way of life,” she said, “People will focus more inwards than outwards, which is a good thing, I think.”
Nurse Sonia Bhatia, too, believes that being a nurse is not a profession for the faint-hearted, saying that it is also one of the most respected, satisfying, demanding, and secure jobs in the healthcare industry.
“And yet regarding COVID-19, to be honest, I was not prepared for anything like this. My training has taught me that nurses should not be scared to take on the challenges. With the appropriate training and all my clinical experience, it really helped me in the current situation,” she admitted.
While there are a number of possible futures dependent on how the government and society responds, she hopes that the crisis can be used to “to rebuild and produce something better and more humane.”
On mental health, Sonia feels that there have been many reasons to feel anxious.
“There’s anxiety about patients’ health, but also the possibility of infecting family members, and the financial impact of the pandemic,” she explained to Indian Link, “This worldwide pandemic has brought with it public health crises, global economic upheaval and widespread uncertainty.”
Even when the threat of COVID-19 passes, she isn’t sure if things will return completely to normal.
“The virus and the economic tumult that accompanies it are transformative events. It will likely change lifestyle and financial choices for every generation,” she said.