With the COVID-19 pandemic still a major recurring issue – people around the world are still quarantined at home. People are still social distancing from each other and the Work from Home (WFH) policy is still in effect. As of now, there are currently 3,843,484 confirmed cases with over 265,659 deaths and 1,314,560 recovered cases. The development of a vaccine for COVID-10 is still under way. Scientists around the world have gathered in hopes of finding a working vaccine that is not only effective, but also safe for human use. Hospitals are still full – and running out of place. With the still increasing number of cases, hospitals are struggling to be able to treat and handle every patient infected. Not only that, but medical workers are also slowly decreasing as the number of doctors and nurses infected are getting higher and higher. These people are the most at risk of getting infected as their job requires them to be more exposed to the virus than any other person. In honor of our community heroes, we had the opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with the respected figure himself – Dr. Made, in which he shares his fight and personal experience on the COVID-19 frontlines.
- What do you think about the COVID-19 issue as someone who is at the frontline in dealing with this pandemic?
COVID-19 is a pandemic – a disease that spreads and develops in a wide area and is quite a serious problem we are facing here. The virus itself is highly contagious and spread fast through human contact. We must be vigilant and should not underestimate this virus. At the same time, we shouldn’t panic too. A lot of false news and hoaxes that has been floating around on social media are making the public – when it is the last thing we should do.
- What is your experience in handling COVID-19 patients up until now?
I’ve definitely noticed the change in guard pattern. Changing job desks because now more are needed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). All of must adapt and embrace when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, we have been using hazmats and full protective medical gears for at least 8 until 12 hours. It is gruesomely hot under the gear, and we are not allowed to eat or drink during our shifts. We have difficulty in using the restroom, frequent blisters on the face area (nose, cheeks, etc.), feet and also hands. All of us have also been on edge, fearing that whether we are infected or not. Secondly, I was unable to act in a relaxed manner with the patients and would have to avoid close contact when greeting them. Personally, I still believe that warm gestures are important – especially at a time like this. Being cautious does not mean that you cannot keep doing warm gestures. Other than that, I have also experienced the healing process of patients – either when they are in good condition or in a critical condition. It was sad to see patients whose conditions got worse, and it was also happy to see patients start to recover slowly but surely. Patients who initially had to use a breathing aid to breath properly, who are now able to go home and are released from the ICU. It was quite an experience too to share the happiness and sadness of each and every patient as well as their families. Seeing them communicate via video call with their families.
- What is the first step that is usually taken at the very beginning when handling an infected patient (basic protocol)?
The first step is definitely safety first. We should always maintain the security of the doctors, as well as the patients – making sure to use personal protective equipment and provide a mask to the patients too. Most patients that come with undetermined critical levels of infection are classified in accordance to the severity of each patient. We call it the triage level of severity – red, yellow, and green.
RED: Patients in the red category are first priority patients (resuscitation areas) who need immediate help. The criteria for patients who fall into this category are those who are experiencing a critical condition that requires immediate medical attention. While we screen for the disease, we prioritize patients under this category first.
YELLOW: Patients in the yellow category are second priority (the action area) who also need immediate help. However, patients in this category are not in critical condition. In this category, we can screen the patients first.
GREEN: This category is included in the third priority (observation area). Patients in this category generally experience minor injuries and are usually still able to walk or seek help themselves.
Medical treatment also divides patients from ODP (Orang Dalam Pemantauan), PDP (Pasien Dengan Pengawasan) and Confirmed Cases category. Patients will be treated according to the severity of the disease of each individual. Starting from independent isolation, home monitoring, hospital isolation and even the ICU.
- What is the temporary treatment for this disease (due to the absence of a vaccine)?
COVID-19 itself is basically an infection. It is a self-limiting disease – meaning it can heal itself. So far, there is no definitive treatment or a truly patent drug (vaccine) for COVID-19. But during temporary treatments, there are several drugs that can be used to break the multiplication chain of germs in our body. For example, anti-viral (tamiflu, etc.), hydrocloroquin groups, the help of immunomodulatory drugs and vitamins to support the patient’s body and supportive treatment to support the patient’s condition – such as oxygen, cough medicine, fever medication, even breathing aids.
- What motivates you to get up every morning and work to treat patients 24 hours nonstop? How do you feel about having to use protective gear for hours and risking your own health to treat others?
The underlying motivation for me to help and serve is passion and compassion. Other than that, this is the risk of the work that I have decided to do. To me, helping patients and prioritizing humanity, is a way to pay back the compassion from God. To see that is hope in each of our services.
- What are your reasons for choosing to work in the medical field?
I personally dived into the medical world at first to continue the ideals of my parents who were unable to accomplish their dreams. They wanted me to become a doctor, but after personally experiencing it during college, I slowly developed a true passion for it and that compassion emerged as well.
- What is the current situation at the hospital that you are stationed at? Is there a shortage of medical supplies?
I do not exactly know about our medical supply specifically. This is because there are certain departments that are responsible for handling the logistics of it. We did have to reuse several supplies that one time due to our supplies being barely enough. But at this time around, the inflow of medical supplies is quite smooth. Thanks to the help of the local community who partially helped in supplying the hospital.
- What is your view on people who panic buys medical supplies (face masks, latex gloves, alcohol swabs, medical supplies, etc.)? How badly has it affected the work efficiency of medical personnel?
Panic buying has a huge impact on the availability of supplies needed by local hospitals. It affects the distribution of medical supplies to all regions. I mentioned before that my hospital reused several supplies (and this applies to many other hospitals as well) because of the limited supplies. This is indirectly the result from people panic buying and hoarding medical supplies. When hospitals run out of supply, they are unable to have quick access to new supplies. In fact, there are some hospitals that are very short of supplies, especially those in remote areas. Many medical personnel must try to work as effectively as possible with limited supplies, and for me this has a huge impact on the patients themselves – as well as the medical personnel. To be able to win against this disease, we should all be helping each other. We also need the help of the community to withstand this pandemic.
- How does the hospital deal with the lack of medical supplies (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), face shields, surgical gowns, medical shoes, miscellaneous medical supplies)?
There are several hospitals that reused their supplies to deal with the limited supplies. Some prioritizes the use of their PPE for patients who are in the red zone. For example, in the emergency room, isolation room or the ICU. Some wear surgical gowns and some even use raincoats. But the inflow and accessibility of supplies are slowly stabilizing each day. Occasionally, we also tend to share our PPE supplies with other hospitals in the network to help each other. We also receive help through donations from the public too.
- Is there false news (hoax) that is circulating in the community that you want to straighten out?
There are indeed quite a lot of hoaxes and false information going around. For example, how cold weather and snow can kill the virus, how hot showers can protect people from getting infected, how the disease can be transmitted through mosquitoes, how hand dryers can kill the virus, or even how UV lights can kill the virus. The point that I’m trying to say is that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through droplets or small particles that are able to survive in the air for a while, but will soon evaporate. The particles fall to the ground and will evaporate. These droplets can attach themselves to surfaces and items. The droplets are then spread through contact and eventually infect anyone who comes in contact with them. The entrance of this virus is typically through the respiratory tract (nose, mouth and tear glands).
What can be done to prevent it is social and physical distancing – keep a minimum distance of 1 meter from others, wear masks everywhere, always wash your hands (especially before eating and when touching the areas of your face), bring enough hand sanitizer, stay at home, and even if you have to travel, immediately take a shower and change clean clothes immediately, before chatting with your family.
- Are there some things you want to say to the public about the COVID-19 pandemic from someone who is at the frontline in handling the COVID-19 pandemic? Any advice for the public?
Adapt and Embrace
Don’t be rash and definitely do not take the virus lightly. Together, we can get through this pandemic. We must all do prevention against the virus, by staying at home and limiting contact with others or any surfaces that you know are not disinfected. Avoid going to crowded places or hanging out with friends as it speeds up the contact and spread of the virus. Be honest with your medical condition. Come clean about whether you have been outside the city or country. Always be honest about the results of your rapid test swatch. We must also eliminate the stigma against any medical personnel or infected patients and treat them indifferent from the others. Help each other and do not spread fear so others would also not feel afraid or paranoid. We can only beat this virus if we stay strong and prevail together. We are in a vulnerable condition that requires even more willingness and initiative to help.
We are currently living through a future history lesson today. The blood, sweat and tears of medical workers who sacrificed and fought on the frontlines of the pandemic will never be forgotten. These people suffered so the rest of us could live peacefully and away from the virus. These people are willing to sacrifice their own health and lives to serve on the frontlines and help fight against the ruthless virus. What Dr. Made is going through right now, is what thousands of other medical workers are also experiencing. However, there is always something positive in every negative situation, if we let them be. The bad things that happen, we can somehow always make that good. In the case of Dr. Made, he went through heaven and hell with his patients. He saw them slowly recover from a critical condition, and shared their tears and joy. In respect to medical workers around the world, the community should also help in reducing the spread of the virus even more by adhering to basic rules and policies. We can also make a difference in fighting back against the pandemic.
Words by: Aisyah Daniswari