KNH nurses share experiences working on Covid-19 war frontline

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Hilary Muya is a nurse at the Kenyatta National Hospital’s casualty department. Photo/COURTESY

George Kebaso @Morarak

When the sun is about to rise, for other Kenyans, it is just another day to eke out a living.

This is different for Hilary Muya, Martin Ng’ang’a and other healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

As the world marked the International Nurses Day on Tuesday, Muya, 29, a nurse at the Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) casualty department recollected how he recently received an accident victim who turned to be Covid-19 positive after six hours of stabilisation.

“Just imagine how it felt after all that time of paying close attention to the patient to stabilisation and turning out the accident survivor was Covid-19 positive.

Well, I calmed myself and revealed to the patient of his Covid status and made a hospital transfer to Kenyatta University Teaching Hospital,” Muya told People Daily.

Utmost dedication

In the midst of a pandemic and an array of challenges, Muya and Ng’ang’a are proud to go to work each day.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a sense of uncertainty, one thing remains constant; from a conversation with the two nurses—the dedication of nurses to serving the needs of the community.

The duo have given their all despite the challenges they face as frontline healthcare workers.

From the threat of being infected, to the challenges of inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and non-payment of risk allowances, Muya, Ng’ang’a and the other nurses are, however, in the frontline to ensure they play their part in addressing the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the duo was busy at the KNH, where they receive patients of all types, among them possible Covid-19 positive cases.

“It is a scaring experience knowing you are waking up everyday to report to work at a place where 100 per cent of the people least think of visiting.

It is scaring for all of us, but it’s our work to receive patients and guide them to their next destination,” said Muya.

He added that with the situation of inadequate PPEs still bedevilling the country’s health sector, other support staff step back for fear of being infected, leaving the whole task for nurses to handle.

“It really scares when you are told that the patient you handled has turned out to be Covid-19 positive.

At this juncture, you start to feel all manner of fear, but mainly it’s fear of the unknown.

I have so far handled 15 patients, but what’s paramount is protection for yourself and people you interact with,” he said.

At home—where he has to go back to his family that includes his two-year-old son—Muya has to confront this question, “What if I am exposed?”

However, Muya said challenges such as burnout and psychological torture prepare him and his colleagues, to be able to deliver better healthcare services.

Conscious decisions

On his part, Ng’ang’a, a 28-year old nurse who also works in the same department as Muya, the Covid-19 pandemic period has taught him a lesson to act as a teacher back in his residential neighbourhood.

He said: “Protection is paramount. At work you have to be conscious of your colleagues and other people such as patients.

In the public transport and at home, the same must happen. You have to be sensitive and prevent everyone you come into contact with.

It is quite easy for other people to contract the virus, however, rule number one is, act first in prevention.”

“Despite being underpaid and not appreciated in terms of risk allowances, it is still a nice experience to work in the frontline,” he said, expressing concern for the other patients with underlying conditions such as hypertension, Tuberclosis and HIV/Aids among others.

He called on the government to keep an eye on this group of patients, so that they are not hit by a double impact of health problems as Covid-19 continues to ravage populations.

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