The Superheroes of COVID-19
Submitted by NipunaThamanam, Dublin City University, Ireland
Nurses are a unique kind. The insatiable need to care for others is their greatest strength. In a society of so many different races, cultures, customs and beliefs, nurses are a universal gift to all. Amid the current crises of this COVID-19 pandemic, they exhibit their profession with such passion and intensity that it becomes a calling. Nurses have once again answered their calling, showing their dedication, ability and willingness to work.
In Ireland, the rapid spread of COVID-19 is placing substantial pressure on health care systems and health care workers. Although short on hands, supplies, sleep, resources (Personal Protective Equipment) and energy, nurses are rarely short on caring, providing holistic care in exceptional circumstances. There are many selfless doctors, first-responders, and other healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I would like to highlight the work of nurses in communities and hospitals. Viruses pay no attention to borders, nationality, race, or gender, neither do nurses, as our Taoiseach (Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar) has said.
Nurses in the communities are fighting COVID-19 through sampling, testing and contact tracing. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has taken a proactive step by introducing contact tracing centres around the country to help minimise the spread and flatten the curve. Following World Health Organization (WHO) and national guidelines, contact tracing is carried out over the phone and involves making three different calls. I am involved in making the first call, informing patients of their positive test results and giving them information on self-isolation.
Informing people over the phone of their positive test results is often not so easy. When the person on the other side of the telephone sheds a tear on hearing the bitter truth, our hearts too are saddened. Empathy, care and compassion are expressed through the tone of our voice. On the brighter side, it is heart-warming to hear the stories of their recovery.
Amazingly, history repeats itself; Florence Nightingale has inspired millions of nurses around the globe to keep their lamps shining as we make a mark in the world’s history. Little did we know that the virus would cause a global sensation about nurses when the WHO designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. Nursing Now, the three-year global campaign (2018- 2020) which was initiated to raise the status and profile of nursing, is coming to an end this year; COVID-19 has undoubtedly raised the status and profile of modern-day nursing. Along with the devastation the virus has brought, it has also given perspective and awareness about nurses and the work they do. The survivors sing praises in appreciation of the work nurses provide to save the lives of many infected with COVID-19.
The masks, visors and gowns nurses wear in hospitals are lifesaving and necessary; however, they can be uncomfortable. Masks pinch their noses and irritate their ears. Sweat pours from the gowns, and their feet are often sore due to standing, their hands are dry due to frequent washing, their eyes are watery and misty with the visors, and their hearts burdened as they see their patients say goodbye to this world. They may have a vulnerable child or an older adult at home. Whatever their circumstances are, they are there at the patient’s bedside, providing comfort, compassion and care. All nations are witnessing the great work our nurses accomplish, fulfilling the task Florence Nightingale entrusted and truly marking this year, 2020, as “The Year of the Nurse”.
According to our Taoiseach, not all superheroes wear capes; some wear scrubs and gowns. Thank you, dear people, for applauding nurses, for recognising and respecting them. A sincere thanks to all the nurses around the globe, for their dedication and hard work. Caring for one is love, but caring for hundreds is nursing.