UAE Covid-19: Hospital support staff, unsung heroes in pandemic fight

Dubai - For many of them, Covid-19 changed roles and brought in additional responsibility.

By Zubina Ahmed

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Published: Sat 13 Feb 2021, 2:19 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 Feb 2021, 2:05 PM

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, a lot of recognition went to the doctors and nurses for their noble efforts.

It was a stressful time for those who work as support staff too — lab technicians, medical coders, insurance coordinators, receptionists, cashiers and janitors — who were as important to keep the healthcare system functioning as the doctors and nurses.

For many of them, Covid-19 changed roles and brought in additional responsibility. “I took on the extra responsibility of managing Covid testing for people going back to their home country on repatriation flights. I also carried out duties as a receptionist inside covid testing tents during staff shortages. I had to be courageous as I was coming into contact with a lot of people during this time, but I knew my duty was to help people first,” said Marife Olarte, a health checkup executive in Medcare Hospital – Al Safa.

The support staff at all medical centres have to monitor patients and ensure the process is as smooth as possible. Rangana Silva Ilandaridewa, a security officer at Medcare Hospital – Sharjah, said: “ My duty was mainly to monitor patient flow within the hospital. But when the pandemic hit its peak, I also helped escort patients to their correct area for their appointment. I tried to be as considerate as possible since many of them were visibly nervous. One case which comes to mind was when I escorted a Covid positive patient who had collapsed in front of the elevator. I was wearing my full protective suit, so I carried him to the nearest available nursing team and asked for emergency treatment. I considered myself not just to be a security officer but a real contributor in helping patients.”

Many more stories of bravery from the support staff of the UAE are being shared via an initiative called Faceless Heroes movement, led by Accumed Practice Management, the leading Revenue Cycle Management company in the GCC. The initiative features stories of selfless service, starring back-end workers of the UAE’s healthcare industry and will be awarding the bravest nominees with a $1,500 cash reward as a special thank you. They will be praised for going that extra mile during the challenging times.

The pandemic resulted in many support workers being re-trained to cope with the increasing demand.

Uzma Javed, a physical therapist, recalled how they adapted to the surge in work volume. “During the pandemic I had to switch roles and be re-trained to be part of the Covid-19 testing team at a drive-through testing centre. We completed our outdoor duties in layers of PPE, in extremely scorching UAE summers, staying isolated from families.”

Rhemzel Borreros, a cleaner in a dental oractice in Dubai, said: “Working during a pandemic has not been easy. This was especially true during the initial months. Every day, I thought, what if I get sick too? What if I spread the virus? Countless thoughts went through my mind, but I continued to work. I reminded myself that it is not just about me. I wanted to help others, including my co-workers and the doctors working in our clinic.”

With such real-life stories told through articles, videos, short films and a feature-length documentary, Faceless Heroes is a brilliant initiative.

Ishita Rathi, an HR professional at a mental health facility in Dubai, is overwhelmed by this recognition. “I am truly grateful for the nomination as a Faceless Hero. It was a difficult journey these past few months, but the recognition gives me a sense of fulfillment. I am proud to be a healthcare professional and a working mother and with the support of my family I have a ton of confidence to help my community in every way I can even if it is behind the scenes, like a Faceless Hero.

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