Frontline health workers at the advanced medical centre in the Rockhal, 24 March 2020.
Photo: SIP/Julien Warnand
Our series highlighting the tireless efforts of those who are going beyond the call of duty during the coronavirus crisis continues with a tribute to frontline medical professionals and hospital staff, in Luxembourg and all over the world.
It may seem obvious to praise medical workers in a public health crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic. But over the past three weeks or so doctors and nurses and care staff in Luxembourg’s hospitals and in private general practitioner practices have been putting their own health on the line as they work tirelessly to diagnose, treat and look after patients infected with covid-19.
As the nurse interviewed for Delano by Jess Bauldry on Tuesday confirmed, hospitals have cancelled all annual leave and staff are also on permanent standby. That is additional stress for the close to 70% of public health workers who travel in to Luxembourg from France, Germany and Belgium every day--though several have taken up the government’s offer of free accommodation in empty hotels closer to the hospital where they work.
Praise is also due the doctors and nurses who volunteer for Médecins du Monde Luxembourg, who continue to treat the homeless and disadvantaged.
Nevertheless, as hard as they work, it is additionally frustrating--if not downright infuriating--for medical staff to see that some people are still disregarding the government’s restriction of movement or social distancing orders. The open flaunting of advice and regulations has been even more marked in other countries, where the lack of intensive care beds and available ventilators is even more critical.
Impressions left by face masks on Italian health workers. Photo: SYED IMRAN/Twitter
There’s this ICU Nurse from Michigan who almost breaks down after working 13 hours single-handedly treating two critically ill covid-19 patients by herself. “It honestly felt like I was working in a war zone,” she says. The New York Post reports on the death of 48-year old assistant nursing manager Kious Kelly from Mount Sinai West hospital in New York City, where staff say a lack of basic supplies may have contributed to his becoming infected. In the UK there have been reports of one intensive care nurse committing suicide.
But amid the despair there are moments of joy and hope. In Luxembourg for more than a week neighbourhoods have been applauding health workers in the evenings, and police patrol cars have driven in convoy past hospitals with sirens blaring.
In England on Thursday evening it seemed like the whole country clapped in support of National Health Service workers from their front doors or balconies.
While in Manchester, where mayor Andy Burnham is a former UK secretary of state for health, the city was illuminated in blue, the colour associated with the NHS.
US cities, like Atlanta, also joined in the raucous applause on Thursday during a shift handover at one of the city’s hospitals.
Service dog in training Wynn has been comforting medical staff in Denver. Photo Fernando Stwrat/Twitter
This photo sums up the physical exhaustion and mental suffering endured by frontline medical staff. But it is also a picture of humanity and commitment, of the steadfast spirit that these heroes are showing.