‘Nurses had to step up to fight COVID-19’
-says GPHC Nurse on International Nurses Day
By Vishani Ragobeer
For more than 13 years, Nurse Althea Bristol has dutifully cared for her patients as any good nurse would. Over the past year, however, she and her colleagues had to “fall in” and quickly adapt to the changes effected by the COVID-19 so that patient care could be maintained while fighting off the deadly disease.
Currently, Nurse Bristol is the Junior Department Supervisor attached to the Maternity Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). On a daily basis, she is expected to care for patients who are admitted to the hospital but in the maternity ward, specifically, she helps with the delivery of babies. As a supervisor, too, she has to ensure that the other nurses are equipped to do their work.
“As a nurse at the GPHC, you don’t usually stay in one place. You have a feel of all the areas – medical, surgical, COVID, maternity, accident and emergency,” Nurse Bristol said, during an interview with the News Room on Wednesday.
Importantly, over the past year, Nurse Bristol recounted that the work of nurses – much like many other healthcare workers – changes drastically. In addition to having “a feel” of all the areas, the nurses were now required to take extra precautions to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus and to ensure that patients were kept safe.
“It was a fast transition- not by choice- but it is basically how nurses work,” the nurse said, highlighting: “We adapt, we see the situation- regardless if our lives are threatened or not – and we just fall into place because our first love is caring for people.”
She said that in administering care to patients, nurses were now required to be even more vigilant of their surroundings and the symptoms that patients present with. Personal safety has been paramount too, resulting in the use of personal protective gear.
Fundamentally, however, Nurse Bristol said the emphasis on providing the best possible care to patients could not be diminished- even if those patients presented with the usual symptoms of COVID-19.
“You try not to interact too much differently from other patients because remember you don’t want to stigmatise anybody. You wear your mask and you sanitise,” she related.
As she joined her colleagues in observing International Nurses Day, on May 12, the nurse encouraged all individuals to recognise the important role that nurses play in the delivery of patient care and show some appreciation.
“In general, what we offer to persons, nobody else can because in the pandemic, so many other persons were fumbling for their jobs but the nurses had to be there, we just had to fall in, we didn’t have a choice,” she underscored.