Duty at the isolation ward
Posted on October 22, 2020 under News
Punam is a nurse working in Tansen Hospital who is currently on isolation ward duty. Every day she gets into her PPE suit and goes into the patient’s room to check on them. Like all Tansen Hospital nurses, she is doing her duty with a smile and a lot of care, but Punam is sad at some of the changes due to Covid – she says wearing the PPE suit changes the way the patients and others respond to her as a nurse. Many nurses are serving faithfully while putting a little risk to themselves.
To find out more about Punam and her experience while on duty at the isolation ward, read the story below.
Also, please pray as Tansen Hospital is beginning to see more COVID-19 cases in Tansen and are planning to expand hospital isolation beds as referral options are decreasing. Please pray for the staff protection from infection both inside and outside the hospital and for seriously ill patients that we are treating.
Do you know about UMN’s Christmas Appeal which supports the two UMN hospitals? Click here
to find out more about how and which hospital expenses you can help with this Christmas.
Punam’s story: Serving with a smile
Punam Thada grew up only a couple of hours from Tansen in the village of Galyang. She went to Pokhara to study nursing at Manipal Hospital and after graduating, came to United Mission Hospital, Tansen about 5 years ago.
Punam has been working on the surgical wards since she started. However, with the advent of Covid 19 and the changes that have come due to that, she has also been assigned to do isolation duty.
For nurses in Tansen, two nurses are assigned together for a 2-week period. During that time, they stay in the small nurses’ room and are there for the entire time – no breaks away during those 2 weeks. The 2 nurses take turns dressing in their PPE and going into the patient rooms to check on them. One goes in, takes care of checking vitals, makes sure everything is okay and then goes back to the nurse’s room. About 4 hours later, the other nurse takes her turn. They have learned to work differently in these patient encounters – they don’t turn their backs on the patients, and they don’t use their stethoscopes for checking blood pressures, etc. They wear at least 2 masks into the room, and upon leaving, discard the outer one, but leave the inner one on even in the nurses’ station.
Punam has done 3 sets of shifts on isolation duty so far – and will be starting another one on Sunday. Because she is single, and lives on the hospital compound in the nursing hostel, she has not faced the difficulties of having family or neighbors upset by her work. Her mother in Pokhara is supportive of what she is doing here in Tansen.
The first time Punam did the isolation duty, she did feel some fear, but soon the interactions with the patients and the routine of taking care of them took over and she feels comfortable now. After the 2 weeks of duty, the nurses self isolate for 4 – 5 days and then get a PCR test. When the negative result comes, they are able to again work on other wards in the hospital.
On the first day of Punam’s last isolation duty, her own uncle came into the hospital having traveled up from Butwal. She went to the Emergency room to meet him and went with him to the Palpa test location to get a PCR test for him. He was struggling to breathe even on that short trip. He was admitted into isolation when they returned to the hospital, and Punam cared for him that first day. However, after that, it was decided since she had been exposed (her uncle was positive) that she shouldn’t care for other patients, so she went into isolation until she got a negative PCR.
While her uncle was in the hospital, he was quite ill and at one point was getting up to 10 liters of oxygen per minute. Fortunately, he has recovered and is being discharged to go home.
Punam is sad at some of the changes due to Covid – she says wearing the PPE changes the way the patients respond to her as a nurse. But, she is happy to continue to do her shifts on the isolation ward as she went to nursing school because she wanted to care for people, and she is glad to be able to do that here.
When asked what she likes about UMHT, Punam said she loves the values of the hospital – especially that there is equality and access for all, and no discrimination. She finds working with the other staff easy, and feels valued by the doctors for her work.
We are thankful for Punam and others like her who are faithfully serving the patients who come to Tansen Hospital even though there is some risk to themselves.