Anitha Abraham, deputy chief nursing officer, Sir HN Reliance Foundation in Mumbai, is currently posted at SevenHills Hospital's Covid-19 facility in Marol. For Anitha Abraham, the greatest reward is the words of gratitude she gets from patients who’ve recovered from the coronavirus. At the time of discharge, she says, they have tears in their eyes and relief writ large over their faces. “They thank us profusely, saying they never felt they were fighting a virus because of the family-like care that they got. They call us angels in their lives,” says the deputy chief nursing officer, who has been at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle, posted at the Sir HN Reliance Foundation-managed Covid-19 facility at Mumbai’s SevenHills Hospital, in suburban Marol, since the end of March. A 29-year veteran in the medical profession, Abraham, 49, admits that the pandemic has brought fresh challenges for health care professionals like her. Among those is carrying out their duties in personal protection equipment (PPE) kits for 4 to 8 hours at a stretch, depending on their responsibilities for the day. “We can neither drink water nor use the washroom when in PPE. It results in dehydration and exhaustion,” she says, adding that wearing masks can be suffocating too. “It can lead to a communication gap with our colleagues as well as patients, who also wear masks. So, we repeat ourselves to ensure the instructions are not lost on them. We have to be extra vigilant to understand what our patients are saying,” she says. Abraham’s day starts at 8.30 am and goes on till 7.30 pm on most days. Even when she returns to her hotel accommodation, she is constantly monitoring treatment plans and manpower strength for the following day. “You have to ensure quality care to patients at all times. I have chosen this profession and it is my moral duty to carry out my responsibilities to the best of my abilities.” In times like these, Abraham and her team have gone beyond their call of duty. Since families of patients are not allowed in the hospital, they even feed those seeking treatment and give them a bath if necessary. “We ensure they don’t suffer from bed sores or any other infection,” she says. “We also encourage our nurses to counsel patients and give them the psychological support if they feel anxious.” The enormity of the task can be daunting, but having a supportive family helps. Abraham’s husband and younger son, 17, encourage her to dutifully carry on with her job while taking care of herself. Her older son, 24, is pursuing his master’s in New Jersey. She admits that not meeting her family for such a long duration takes an emotional toll, but daily video calls with them makes her feel better. Before she calls it a night, Abraham spends a few minutes praying for the well-being of all her patients. “I submit myself to God,” she says, adding that she feels blessed that she can be of help during this crisis. “It is better if we get a chance to serve the community. We cannot restrict our working… we cannot deny any care. God has chosen us for that.” This is part of a daily series on how Covid-19 has upended the lives of essential workers across the country.
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