2020 was an exceptional year around the world, especially in Lebanon.
We started this year with an economic crisis followed by a great public health concern: Covid-19. This epidemic outbreak was a threat world widely, affecting everyone. As health care professionals especially as frontline nurses we sacrificed ourselves to protect the health of all citizens living in our country.
In the beginning we were under immense stress and anxiety because this virus was still unknown to us (transmission route, prevention ways and clinical manifestations). At SGHUMC, huge changes happened and in no time, we were ready to receive COVID-19 patients. We took the decision to volunteer in these services without asking for any reward or subsidies in return; although we were aware that too many changes will take place in our daily lives: diminished social life, undue stress among the population… The hardest one was being away from our family and loved ones, our main fear was being exposed to COVID-19 at work and contaminating our family which forced us to move from our parents’ home, unlike the rest of people/families who, during the lockdown got united and strengthened their relations.
Even when the government enforced strict quarantine we were going to work, showing everyone our commitment to protect their lives while putting ours at risk. We have taken extensive precautions to prevent spreading the virus among us, have provided a holistic care and have given our best to all our patients.
For the first time ever we were separated from our colleagues, our beloved medical surgical floor was transformed to a standby intensive care unit. We were scattered about, some of us in a very short time got the needed training to work in COVID ICU unit in order to be able to provide competent care to intubated patients or critically ill and some went to Corona clinic (drive thru service). It was such a challenge for all of us, but we gained a different perspective and experience in our endeavors.
In the COVID ICU we started with few critical patients (1 patient per nurse), but soon enough, the ratio shifted, and we were taking care of up to 2 critical or intubated patients per nurse. We had hard times: wearing the hazmat suit for long hours, being unable to drink water or to go to toilet in order to save the use of PPE’s reserve considering that at the moment we were also going through a financial crisis.
Regarding corona clinic we had a major role in community by education, spreading awareness and taking up the task of performing several hundred PCR tests per day, noting how scared and overwhelmed people were feeling at the time, with everything happening in the country.
Everything was going somewhat smoothly, and most of us were getting accustomed to the “New Normal” of our daily lives, and then the August 4th port explosion incident happened. We managed to successfully evacuate a vast majority of the patients, their families, injured colleagues, nut in was the first time in over a century since the hospital went out of commission, our futures were uncertain, our wounds and trauma were deep. But with the hospital’s constant support, and the support of the local and international communities who, thankfully, flooded in with donations of all varieties, no one was let go, our salaries were untouched (which is a blessing considering the circumstances). Within weeks we were ready to welcome patients again, albeit within less than ideal conditions, but the care we provided only improved and evolved to make everyone, staff members included, as safe as possible, and cared for.
This is a subject essay that summarizes what the entire staff members for the most art went through, the changes, the trauma, the loss, the feelings of helplessness and inaptitude, and the strength we give each other each day we clock in to work, ready to save people’s lives, one act of kindness at a time.
Edited by 3FN nurses: