Image Source: Ronaldo Baretto (Facebook)
Mangaluru: The Union Government, as well as the state and local administrations, have, in the recent past, made a big show of honouring those working on the frontlines of the battle between life and death during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have been several heartbreaking stories doing the rounds since the pandemic hit Indian shores with full force, where doctors, nurses, medical staff and health workers have been seen struggling to carry out their duties either due to a lack of protective gear and equipment or out of sheer exhaustion.
One such situation was witnessed in Mangaluru's Wenlock Hospital, where a nurse who was completely exhausted from her work collapsed in the hospital after having been made to wait without any assistance, while she suffocated in her PPE kit.
A picture of the nurse collapsed on the floor, that was posted to Facebook by her husband on Thursday, May 14, has sparked outrage sparked.
Like most of us, Ronaldo Baretto did not know what a nurse or doctor has to go through while wearing a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kit till his wife, Vinolia told him what she went through on Wednesday.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare professionals from all over the world have been sharing their experiences and ordeals. There are many videos being posted on social media, where they show how many layers of protective equipment they need to wear to work with COVID-19 patients and how exhausted and difficult it is once you are stepping out of the gear.
Wenlock Hospital, which is located in Mangaluru, is the only dedicated COVID-19 hospital in the Dakshina Kannada district. As part of her duties, Vinolia was sent alone to a patient’s home in an ambulance to check for any complications so that they could be sent to the COVID hospital.
A nurse by profession, Vinolia had donned the appropriate PPE kit to undertake the task, which took her around two hours from the time she left the hospital till she returned. However, having spent an extended amount of time in the kit, she was suffocated and exhausted and there was no one around to help her.
According to Ronaldo’s Facebook post, Vinolia and the patient (who was in the ambulance) were made to wait for at least an hour outside the hospital in the sun.
Ronaldo adds that his wife was so exhausted because of the suffocation from the PPE kit that she desperately needed a glass of water to drink and a place to sit. However, the nurse was not able to do any of this as she could not leave the patient all on their own in the ambulance.
By the time Vinolia managed to complete all the procedures and get the patient admitted, she had already collapsed twice. When she collapsed for the third time, she managed to drag herself to a place where she could sit while the rest of the hospital staff watched from afar.
A frustrated Ronaldo wrote that his wife was so traumatised by the ordeal that she prefers being exposed to the virus than suffering in the PPE.
“Despite being a Nurse with complete PPE kit, no one bothered to even to attend her,[sic]” he wrote, adding that if this is the kind of treatment a Corona Warrior can receive, he could only imagine the treatment received by the patients.
To the post, Ronaldo added a picture of Vinolia sitting next to a dustbin, completely exhausted and looking half-dead after she collapsed for the third time. It was here that she managed to finally get some tea and biscuits to regain her strength.
“Thereafter the issue was raised and her doctor spoke to the district health authorities to intervene. It's been requested atleast a doctor to accompany in such matters so that they too understand what it takes to even admit a patient in the Covid-19 pandemic,[sic]” Ronaldo concluded.
The whole world has been lauding the healthcare workers for their sacrifice in the war against the novel coronavirus. On May 5, answering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call, the Indian Air Force (IAF) jets and transport planes across India showered petals on hospitals and places of national importance to show honour and express their gratitude towards the coronavirus warriors who are battling the pandemic.
In Mangaluru, on April 22, as a mark of respect for the medical fraternity, the Mangaluru City Police organised an "honour convoy" at the Wenlock Covid-19 Block to let the medical fraternity know that they are 'super heroes', whose bravery needs to be appreciated.
It is truly disheartening to see that while flowers were being showered on the healthcare workers, their own health (both mental and physical) is being ignored.
Ronaldo’s post has gone viral on Facebook and has sparked quite a bit of outrage online. Some expressed solidarity with Vinolia and others expressed disgust at the lack of humanity displayed at the hospital.
“…Hope they look into this matter seriously and take action,” wrote one FB user.
Another user, while asking the couple to take care and be bold, warned that there is a possibility that the authorities might take action against them for posting the story online.
“Vinolia hope you are doing good now. Take care of yourself, there is nobody who is gonna listen to nurses voice. So saaad,[sic]” wrote another user.
“Just showers of flowers from helicopter or clapping hands will not help the nurses.. government, medical authorities n hospital management should think of them and their safety,their work load increased, they work with a lot of pressure,their overtime of work means nothing to anyone they breakdown physical, mentally and socially for society and we'll being for humankind,where their salaries remains the same and their sacrifices are not remembered ...the doctors, management are paid well y not the nurses they too deserve... nurses r the roots of medical care without their helping hands it's impossible to help one in medical need ....as long as medical is treated like bussiness and not as service to mankind these kind of hospital will use them..this is one of such ignorance and careless incident towards our so called corona warriors..thanks to the hospital management great work...keep it up..[sic]” wrote another.
Ronaldo and Vinolia have two children. They are like any other family trying to make it through life in these tough times. Being a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic is hard enough. It is not enough to have an honour convoy or shower flower petals on Corona Warriors. What they need the most is the proper equipment, care and concern.
The novel coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the globe is unprecedented and has left many countries scrambling to get their houses in order to fight the disease that has already claimed the lives of over 299,400 people worldwide. In India alone, COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has claimed over 2,500 lives.
The Indian Government has already taken several steps to combat the disease, from enforcing a nationwide lockdown to setting up hospitals dedicated to treating and quarantining COVID-19 patients and their families and contacts. The Government has also undertaken the Herculean task of tracing all contacts of COVID-19 infected patients in order to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Playing an important role in the government's efforts to combat the disease are "Corona Warriors"- brave men and women who are either on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, like doctors, nurses, medical staff and health officials, or in the background fighting fake news and spreading awareness about the disease.
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