Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: UAE healthcare workers honoured on International Nursing Day

World Health Organisation calls for a show of support for front-line nurses during the global pandemic

Vital services provided by front-line health workers and the huge risks they take in the line of duty have never been as critical as they are today, as the world fights a deadly pandemic.

And on Tuesday, International Nurses Day, the World Health Organisation is calling on the public to shine a light to recognise their service.

Nurses working on specialist Covid-19 wards are at greater risk from the virus as they are exposed to a continuous flow of infections.

At hospitals around the world, healthcare staff continue their duties often without adequate personal protective equipment to keep them safe.

Despite those challenges, their selfless actions have saved countless lives and inspired others into the profession.

When the patient arrives in a very grave situation, and then leaves a few weeks later with a smile on their face it makes the job absolutely worthwhile

Shijith Kadankote, Prime Hospital

Shijith Kadankote, from India, has been nursing for 10 years, and is facing daily challenges at Prime Hospital in Garhoud, Dubai.

“We know this is a dangerous situation for all of us,” said Mr Kadankote, 32, who lives in Dubai with his wife and 18-month old son.

“Nursing is a noble profession and we know we are at risk, but we must serve our community.

“All we can hope for is that God’s hand is with us.

“When the patient arrives in a very grave situation, and then leaves a few weeks later with a smile on their face it makes the job absolutely worthwhile.”

International Nurses Day will also celebrate the bicentennial of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

Her image alongside a message of thanks to nurses around the world will be projected on to her place of work, London's St Thomas’s Hospital, from the British Houses of Parliament from 8.30pm GMT on Tuesday.

Similar tributes are expected to follow.

At Bareen International Hospital in Mohammad bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi, Egyptian Mervat Mohamed said nursing is more than a career.

“I am called to make a difference in the lives of the people I take care of,” she said.

“The pandemic has not changed my outlook in my career, especially having seen the dedication and commitment of colleagues to help patients during this trying time.

“Now more than ever, there is appreciation, gratitude, and respect for the role of nurses and all medical frontliners in the healthcare industry all over the world.”

From left, Mervat Mohamed, Sowmya Kotian and Shane Galang are nurses at Bareen International Hospital in Mohammed bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
From left, Mervat Mohamed, Sowmya Kotian and Shane Galang are nurses at Bareen International Hospital in Mohammed bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

Her colleague Shane Galang, a registered nurse from the Philippines, said becoming a front-line health worker was a childhood dream.

“With this crisis, I understand my role in people’s lives even better and the impact I can make to every person I take care of,” she said.

“People might forget our names, but they will never forget how we made them feel – that makes a whole world of difference.”

In the UK, more than 100 NHS staff and other healthcare workers have died as a result of coronavirus.

Despite that, the country has seen a record number of students accepted on to nursing courses at UK universities in the past year.

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Frontline nurses describe testing passengers at Abu Dhabi airport

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Elsewhere, nations reliant on an influx of nurses from overseas are braced for a recruitment crisis.

The Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation has warned of a potential shortfall of 1,500 personnel.

“It is getting difficult to recruit enough nurses as we are getting more Covid-19 positive patients admitted,” said Anette Dcunha, head of nursing recruitment at NMC Bareen Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

“Despite this, I was amazed to see so many fresh nursing graduates applying for jobs despite the huge pressure we are all facing during this terrible pandemic.

“It is clear nurses want to do their job yet they have concerns and worries about getting the virus and passing it on to their families.

“They all want to fight this pandemic with everything they have.”

Malvika Varma recruits nursing staff for the Prime Healthcare Group in Dubai and has seen a similar trend.

“We have seen a mixed reaction from people wanting to work on Covid-19 wards, depending on personal circumstances,” she said.

“Those with kids or elderly relatives with them they are reticent to work in Covid-19 areas.

“Single nurses or those on their own are more than happy to work during these challenging times.

“Surprisingly the attrition we would usually see, such as staff moving on or retiring, has slowed down since the pandemic. That is a good thing to have continuity of care in our hospitals,” she said, asking that the global recognition of healthcare staff’s work was a boost for morale.

Sowmya Kotian, a maternity ward nurse from India said her work at Bareen Hospital has become more important than ever.

“I am glad to be one of the frontliners,” she said.

“Nothing can substitute the sense of fulfilment that I feel whenever I see patients heal and recover from any condition.

“The happiness of my patients and their families equate to my happiness as well.”

Academics are confident the rise of coronavirus will not deter new nurses from joining the profession.

“Nursing has always been an attractive profession,” said Professor Kevin Gormley, dean of Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Health Science and Medicine’s nursery and midwifery college in Dubai.

“The coronavirus pandemic will have an impact and clearly requires a refocusing of nursing needs and interventions.

“But essentially, the philosophy, bedside support and continued care that has always been offered will remain.”

Updated: May 13, 2020 04:36 PM

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