UAE Covid hospital nurse: ‘I served critical patients for 12 hours daily’

The mother of two was separated from her family, living in hotel accommodations during the initial surge of the pandemic



By Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 24 Nov 2021, 3:32 PM

A Covid-19 field hospital nurse in the UAE recalls working long hours under immense emotional and physical pressure away from her family at the peak of Covid-19.

Indian nurse Ramya Radhakrishnan has revealed that serving critical Covid-19 patients was her most challenging professional experience.

According to a write-up shared by the UAE’s Frontline Heroes Office, before the outbreak of Covid-19, Ramya’s toughest professional challenge was her daily commute from Ajman to Dubai.

All that changed in April 2020. Ramya was asked to work in a Covid-19 hospital in Sharjah.

“I still don’t know how to put into words how I felt that day. I was the only one from my department asked to go there and I felt all alone. I was assigned there because I used to work in India as an ICU nurse during the H1N1 outbreak, where I was sent to an isolation unit for five months,” she said.

Staying away from family

Ramya said nothing could have prepared her for working with critically ill Covid-19 patients for 12 hours every day. “Even as a seasoned medical professional, this was something new.

“My main concern initially was the risk of infecting my family. I have two children — an eight-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl — but the hospital gave me hotel accommodation so that I didn’t have to go home to them.

“I did feel anxious going into the hospital, especially on the first day as it was a completely unfamiliar environment.

“Working with new equipment and colleagues whom I had never met before – all while wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) for 12 hours – was tough,” she admitted. “But the situation demanded that we cope and teamwork was paramount; we all supported each other to focus on the job at hand.”

Losing patients to Covid

In addition to the physical discomfort, the job exacted a heavy emotional toll. With so many patients to care for, despite the valiant efforts by Ramya and her team, people still passed away.

“This was the searing part of the experience, watching otherwise healthy young people – some in their 30s and 40s – going into full organ failure, and there was little we could do for them.

“On the other hand, when patients recovered, it proved to be a tremendously uplifting feeling. That is certainly one of the motivations that kept me going, especially as families expressed their gratitude and told us how much they appreciated the medical care we had provided.”

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During the initial surge of Covid-19 cases, Ramya spent one-and-a-half months in a hotel accommodation in Sharjah and didn’t see her family.

“I tried to stay distant from my kids, but it was virtually impossible for them not to hug me. So, I only spoke to my kids on video calls. My husband was also very supportive; he took leave from work to look after the children and after that we had to rely on family members and friends.”

She says that the experience also cemented her appreciation of the UAE government. “I am from another country and I worked with patients of many different nationalities, all of whom received the best quality of care, free of charge. It is thanks to the government’s efforts that we made progress against the virus.”


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