In nursing school we learnt about the importance of connecting with the patient and the importance of a close bond.
Before I worked in the Corona-Dept. I worked in the Oncology-Dept. In the Oncology-Dept. I took care of patients who were severely ill and I was close to them, I was there when they needed me, and if something happened I would go to them immediately. I would give everything to my patients, I would go above and beyond. Sometimes all the patient needs is to have their hand held or a warm hug and encouragement to calm him down, and we, the (male) nurses are there for them. However here in the Corona-Dept. everything is different, everything is the opposite, one has to keep a distance from the patients to protect yourself.
Before we enter to see the patients we put on a protective suit, mask, and on top of that a plastic face shield. The patient only sees our eyes, he does not know to whom he talks, whether the one he talked to before to ask for a medicine is the same who passes him now, or a cleaning person, for him everyone looks the same. Patients are not in a good way, hooked up to oxygen, they need our help. They also need a soothing word from us, and although we are near it seems we are also far away at the same time, it is not easy.
At night, when everybody is asleep, we sit outside the department, we try not to be inside the department for too long to protect ourselves, and we treat them via cameras and telephone from a distance. If something happens, we have to get dressed quickly and run inside. It’s a hard feeling not to be able to be there all of the time, things are very different to what we learnt at nursing school!
One of the most difficult things is for the patient to be isolated from their family. This is our job, to make sure the family are always kept up to date with any information, since they can not be at the patients side and this is the hardest part of the illness. Seeing family members forced to part from those close to their hearts by telephone and camera, whispering last words and unable to hold their hands is heartbreaking.
But there are also very special and emotional sides to this very special department. There is an incredible bond between all the patients, they understand their situation and are eagerly helping the staff, or more correctly, the other patients. If one patient doesn’t manage to leave his bed, his neighbor will get him a glass of water, and also in the middle of the night, if an elderly patient has to go to the bathroom, a younger one will come and accompany and tend to him. If someone needs help with his oxygen, or just company, all are in the same boat.
This unity that exists in the Jewish people we do not only see inside our department, but also with our whole people, every day on TV and Facebook we see people getting out on their balconies and applaud the medical staff, street signs thanking the medical staff, restaurants and shops that these days are closed to the public nevertheless prepare and send wonderful meals to the medical teams to encourage them. Everyone joins the frontline in the war against this virus and helps in every possible way.
And we all pray to the creator of the world “Our Father, our King! Withhold the plague from your inheritance”.
We pray for nicer, happier and healthier days, and that this unity will stay with us and with the help of Hashem we shall come out strengthened!
Moshe Plaut, 27th day of Nissan 5780, Jerusalem