"Today marks International Nurses’ Day, and I am proud to be a part of the global team of nurses, nursing interns and healthcare workers who all are battling this pandemic. Back in early January when I embarked on my journey as an intern nurse, I knew I would face new challenges, but nothing could have prepared me for this.
At the time when the first case arrived in Ireland, I was on a respiratory ward which was selected to be a ‘designated Covid ward’ if the outbreak occurred in the hospital’s area.
This made me very uneasy initially, from fear of bringing it home, to fear of contracting the virus, and the fear of giving it to one of the patients in my care.
I gained new learning on infectious diseases and how to prevent their transmission. I would never have been an expert on putting on PPE, but after all the preparation training, I felt a bit safer when going to work. New measures, like limitations on how many can be in the tearoom for breaks, visitation restrictions to the hospital, and limiting our time with patients at their bedside, was all new territory for me.
Visiting restrictions has its pros and cons, one being that when you go into the patients' room, you don’t have to jump over five visitors to check their vital signs. The patients are also healing better because they eat all their meals, getting vital nutrition. The ward is quieter, allowing for greater rest, and time management has become easier, giving us greater time to provide better care.
The cons are more troublesome at times, going into some patients with masks on is quite scary for them, we are used to offering a smile in the morning and using body language to convey empathy, masks are a huge barrier to this. But it does not stop us giving every attention to your loved one when they need a hand to hold, (all be it with a glove and gown on now). I have always carried the principles of the Red Cross with me, especially humanity, and during these challenging times it is our human nature that shines through.
During our shift we can sometimes notice that patients are lonely in their rooms, so we do our best to check in with everyone. We try to spend time listening to their stories, but we also need to limit our time in close contact with patients, to keep everyone safe.
To combat loneliness, new means of communication are great for some patients who know how to video call. I can see how their faces light up when they receive a call from their grandchildren. We help sometimes setting it up, but it’s worth it to see the pure joy in their eyes when they hear that familiar voice.
We could never anticipate that this was going to happen during the year I was going to graduate. But being part of the Red Cross has helped me by having such a global group of friends. We all share our stories together as most of us are working on the frontline of the pandemic. I touch base with my friends in Italy and around the world to talk about anything other than the “virus”, we all need a break from it! We reflect on our times at meetings and we all look forward to the next one. We all have group calls to stay sane and play online games to pass the time on our days off. Each call does not end with “bye” or “see you soon” but rather “stay safe”. We all just want to come out the other side of this together safely.
For now, we keep going to care for your loved ones and celebrate International Nurses’ Day in unusual circumstances. We keep clapping for the entire healthcare team, we stay physically distant yet socially strong."