What should we do now
My concern about the Corona is that there is no mechanism to protect health workers and get resources needed. Human resources will be very key to fight this pandemic. Equipment to quickly make icus will be necessary.
The people on the frontline are nurses, patient attendants, physiotherapists, clinical officers, paramedical staff and doctors. How will they remain safe during this period? Many are asking, how will they protect themselves? Where will they stay after the shifts. After my 12 hour shift, I cant go home. Where will I rest as I wait for my next shift? Many hospitals don't have quarters for staff or a hostel. Even if they have call rooms, they are for doctors on call. What about the dear cleaners who have to mop and clean where the patients are sleeping? And the kitchen staff who are serving food? The patient attendants or nursing aids who help to bathe patients, how will they be safe as well.
Maybe we can engage the nearby hotels to be converted to hostels for the staff so that they have a place to selfisolate or quarantine. I'm sure the government can negotiate something for them.
Corona makes us all equal because before it, it knows no rank, status or your financial situation. How can we work all cohesively to fight this bug. All the health workers in the insitution are important. More so those who will directly deal with the patients and spend time with them. We can't afford not to work as a team. We need to be our brothers keeper. We need to remind each other to wash hands, use hand sanitizer, how to wear masks properly, how to properly gown, not to touch our faces( this especially speaks to me) and maintaining social distance. This is not the time to dress down each other but to work together especially when we see one not taking the proper steps. We need to be patient with each other but at the same time constantly training and studying how to keep people safe.
Maybe its time the bosses in the office step into the shoes of the frontline staff. Maybe when they step into the shoes and work for a day, then they will realise that we need a big change in our Healthcare system and they will take the steps to change the ecosystem. They will see that when health workers ask for better working conditions like protective gear, equipment like patient monitors, ventilators, beds, medications, they are not bring driven by greed but interest to see healthcare for all wanainchi improve. This is because we can't afford to go elsewhere, we only have what is around us. Even if they now wanted to go elsewhere, with the travel restrictions we have to stay put.
The greatest demotivator for Healthworkers isn't pay. Infact I recall my first lecture in med school, my lecturer said, if you did medicine to get rich, you are in the wrong profession. Go across the street you will get richer faster. The only way to make money the right will be a long tiresome road. The biggest demotivator is in the working conditions and not feeling like you are making a difference. Being empowered with skills but not being able to use them to make a difference because of resource constraints that don't have a clear reason why they are there.
Already many nurses in many hospitals are overstretched because of large nurse to patient ratios. How will the hospitals cope with the increased numbers. Are hospitals ready to recruit more staff to cope. Monitors, icu vents will be needed, will government engage the industry to get more potential beds ready. Procuring equipment takes long. Some suppliers say it takes weeks. I hope that KRA and Goverment can for once reduce or scrap vat for these equipment for this season.
Several Societies like Kenya society of anaesthesiologists and health worker organizations like the Kenya National Union of Nurses are lobbying the government to see how they can work together while at the same time protect the health workers. Lets hope that this will bear fruits quickly. I wonder what the ministry is doing to quickly increase the staff numbers because they will be needed. There should an active recruitment of Healthworkers who are jobless. We can't afford to have the few we have be burnt out or fall ill.
Everyone is scared by this bug. How do we take care of the psychological well-being of the staff. Imagine the trauma they will face when they see mass casualties. It is a matter of time. Most of all what will be helpful is the resilience of those working. How to keep every one motivated to go the extra mile because that's what we will need to fight hard and strong.
Our president has called for a national prayer day tomorrow. Lets support our country by remembering to pray to God. We definitely need his mercy and grace at this time.
Lastly so that we have hope and not get discouraged. Lets remember the words that Isaiah wrote many many years ago. Isaiah 43: 1-3a
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;