Above and beyond the call of duty

Submitted by Saint George Hospital University Medical Center
September 30, 2020

The year 2020 is the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale. It is well known that nurses are vital players in improving public health worldwide. Each year nurse’s role is becoming more important and appreciated by the community, but 2020 is a different one. This year came to emphasize our role as front-liners and warriors in defeating COVID 19. On Friday 21st February 2020, the first case of COVID 19 in Lebanon was confirmed and two other cases were suspected. This news was terrifying for us as healthcare workers and front-liners. Since our responsibility is to deal with the disease and take care of the infected patients, we were afraid of catching COVID 19 and transmitting it to our family members especially elders. This virus was a burden on us, affecting us psychologically and physically. We were grateful that Saint George hospital was protecting and supporting their nurses by forcing us to have regular PCR tests. Also, some NGOs offered us houses to help us protect our family members in case we got infected by the virus. Moreover, the St. George hospital team was always setting and implementing new protocols to defend this virus taking into consideration nurses’ safety as a priority. This made us more confident and gave us more security in dealing with COVID 19 infected patients.

On September 26, 2020 we have 35,228 confirmed cases and 1,627 deaths. This is one of a million successful story that happened at Saint George Hospital University Medical Center at the ICU COVID department. I was writing my notes and I heard loud alarm sounds coming from the ventilator and the monitor. I rushed to the room where I found my supposedly fully sedated patient removing his endotracheal tube.
I had to make a very fast decision; either take time to wear my full PPE or just enter the room with my mask. I didn’t think twice. I rushed into the room wearing only my mask, knowing that in this situation the respirator is blowing air into the room and the virus is now airborne. I had to put the patients’ health in front of mine. I tried to lodge the ETT back into place but in vain, so I picked up my phone and called the pulmonary fellow (K.J), who was by chance less than a minute away from the COVID ICU department. We couldn’t abide by the protocols set for intubating COVID patients because it will take a lot of our time. We couldn’t afford losing any minute since the patient was hypoxemic and gasping for air. Also, his skin was turning blue. Thus, we quickly intubated him with the available equipment we had and we succeeded in saving his precious life. Later the patient defeated the virus. He was taken to the medical floor and finally discharged home.

After the whole rescue process ended, I took a bath and changed my scrubs. The ID physician advised me to stay isolated for a week and then get a PCR test. Some of my fellow colleagues criticized my actions saying that I put myself in a very high risk of getting COVID 19. My response was and will always be I prefer getting infected with COVID 19 than watching my patient dies, knowing that I could have saved his/her life. Saving patient’s life is always our priority. I did COVID 19 test and the result was negative. So it was a win-win situation, the patient is alive and well and I didn’t get infected.

Edited By: Leen Andary-RN-ICU

Al Arabiya English. “First Coronavirus Case Confirmed in Lebanon: Health Minister.” Al Arabiya English, Al Arabiya English, 20 May 2020, english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/21/First-coronavirus-case-confirmed-in-Lebanon-Health-minister.