Covid-19 outbreak puts Hanoi dialysis patients in distress

By Giang Huy, Phuong Lam   April 1, 2020 | 03:51 pm GMT+7

Despite the government’s social distancing campaign and Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi being a Covid-19 outbreak area, people need to go there for dialysis.

Nguyen Thi Oanh, 30 has been going to Bach Mai hospital since she was 16 due to her kidney failure. Oanh came from Trang Viet commune by the Red River in the outskirt of Hanoi, about 33 kilometers northwest from the hospital. To get the treatment she needs, for 14 years  Oanh has been living in Alley 121 Le Thanh Nghi Street, Hai Ba Trung district which is 5 minutes walking from the hospital.  At 10 a.m., Oanh goes to the hospital for her treatment. She brings some clothes with her in case if I get quarantined there, I have something to wear.  Bach Mai hospital, a major outbreak area in Hanoi, has been locked down since Saturday morning. At least 33 cases are associated with the hospital.

Nguyen Thi Oanh, 30, has been going to Bach Mai Hospital three times a week for dialysis since she was 16.
She is from Trang Viet Commune on the outskirts of Hanoi, 33 kilometers from the hospital. But for 14 years she has been living off Le Thanh Nghi Street, five minutes away from the hospital by walk.
At 10 a.m. she goes to the hospital carrying some clothes. "If I get quarantined there, I have something to wear," she explains. Bach Mai Hospital, a major outbreak area in Hanoi, has been locked down since Saturday morning. At least 36 cases have been associated with the hospital.

Oanh must have her blood filtered three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 3p.m. Her life would be at risk if she doesn’t receive the treatment in more than two days. Visible fistula on her arm indicates she has been receiving dialysis.

Oanh goes there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Her life will be at risk if she fails to go for more than two days. The fistula on her arm is a sign of her years of dialysis.

Oanh and her husband (L) Le Van Vinh live in a rented room that is about than 10 square meters wide. The couple pays a monthly rent of VND1.5 million.  Oanh is not the only patient of her kind in Alley 121 which is dubbed kidney failure patient neighborhood. The neighborhood consists of nine households. Eight families still live in the alley and visit the hospital to get treated, while one had gone back to their hometown after the end of Lunar New Year festival to avoid the outbreaks in the city.

Oanh and her husband Le Van Vinh rent a 10-square-meter room for VND1.5 million ($63) a month. Their area is dubbed "kidney failure patient neighborhood" since it has nine households with people who visit the hospital for dialysis. One of them returned to its hometown after Lunar New Year (in late January) to avoid the coronavirus outbreak.

Oanh makes fried rice for herself on the frying pan and rice balls for her husband. This has been their primary meal for more than a week since money ran out and they couldn’t afford shopping for food.

Oanh makes fried rice for herself on the frying pan and rice balls for her husband. This has been their primary meal for more than a week since money ran out and they couldn’t afford shopping for food.

While Oanh prepares for some rice balls for herself before her hospital visit, Vinh is on his phone, the only means of connection with the outside world.  Vinh has been unemployed since mid-February around the time Covid-19 cases started to be reported in other Asian countries apart from China. Residents in Vinh’s neighborhood have been advised by the authorities to not go out as much as possible these days.

While Oanh makes for some rice balls for herself before leaving for the hospital, Vinh is on his phone.
He has been unemployed since mid-February around the time Covid-19 cases started in other Asian countries outside China. 

Two doors from Vinh’s home is where Nguyen Van Hung and his wife Ta Thi Sau live in a room even smaller, eight square meter wide.

Two doors away live Nguyen Van Hung and his wife Ta Thi Sau in an even smaller room.

Hung, a veteran has been living with kidney failure for more than a decade. Bullet wounds robbed him of three fingers on his left hand and one on his right hand, so he couldn’t keep the bandage from falling off which is put by his doctor on his arm after a dialysis to stop the bleeding. His wife Sau accompanies him in every trip to the hospital.  Sau’s source of income is her tea stand inside the Banh Mai Hospital’s courtyard. Since Hanoi confirmed two nurses being the first cases of the hospital on March 6, more control and prevention measures have been implemented, resulting in Sau’s tea stand suspended. Last Saturday, the hospital was officially locked down after more cases emerged.

Hung, a veteran has been living with kidney failure for more than a decade. He lost three fingers on his left hand and one on his right to bullets, and so he cannot keep the bandage put by the doctor on his arm after dialysis from falling off. Sau accompanies him every time to the hospital. Their only source of income had been her tea stall at the Bach Mai Hospital courtyard until Hanoi's first Covid-19 infection case was reported on March 6. The control measures implemented there included the temporary removal of her tea stall.

90-year-old Nguyen Hong Son, hailing from the northern province of Bac Ninh has been caring for his wife who also has kidney failure for last 10 years. Dinh Thi Le has her blood filtered three times a week for four hours at night on the same days like Oanh. While his wife is in the hospital, Son cooks and cleans at home. The couple doesn’t want to go back to Bac Ninh, nor that they can anyway.  If we get the virus and give it other people, that would be miserable. We stay here, we don’t know where else to go, they said.Son’s only hobby these days is to read books and wait for his wife to return from the hospital to have dinner together.

Nguyen Hong Son, 90, of the northern province of Bac Ninh has been caring for his wife, who also has had kidney failure for the last 10 years. Dinh Thi Le has dialysis three times a week at night on the same days as Oanh. While his wife is at the hospital, Son cooks and cleans at home.
The couple do not want to go back to Bac Ninh. They say: "If we get the virus and give it to other people, that would be bad. We stay here, we don’t know where else to go."
Son’s only hobby these days is to read books and wait for his wife to return from the hospital to have dinner together.

As of Monday night, Vietnam has confirmed 204 Covid-19 cases. People in the neighborhood have been advised not to leave their homes.

As of Wednesday, Vietnam has had 212 Covid-19 cases, including 36 associated with the Bach Mai Hospital, now the nation’s largest infection hotspot. People in the neighborhood have been advised not to leave their homes. 

Their already tiny homes seem to shrink because of the movement restriction. They can only stay home or go to a shared courtyard in the alley. Female residents in the neighborhood who have kidney failure take care of their husbands and makes ends meet by washing dishes, selling tea on the street, and collecting scraps.

So they will be cooped up in their tiny homes, at best going to a shared courtyard in the alley. The women living with kidney failure take care of their husbands and themselves by washing dishes, selling tea on the street and collecting scrap.

A few items the women use to bring with them to work, either selling tea or collecting scraps are now collecting dust as they cant go to work because of the outbreaks.

But now they cannot go to work because of the outbreak.

Medical staff have been informing residents in the neighborhood about the disease at the alley’s entrance starting Monday. Authorities in Hai Ba Trung District will provide 10 kilograms of rice and a million dongc($43) to each family. The district has also signed a contract with a supermarket to provide essential goods every two days to the neighborhood residents.  A separate path for patients with kidney failure has been set up so they could go to Bach Mai Hospital. Each is given a card as a ticket in and out of the path. The hospital sends a van to pick up the patients and drops them off after their treatment.  Alley 121 alone is home to 105 patients with kidney failure. About 500 people with the same health issue have been getting treatment at the hospital.

Medical workers have been informing people living in the neighborhood about the disease since Monday. Authorities in Hai Ba Trung District will provide 10 kilograms of rice and VND1 million ($43) to each family to tide over the two-week period.
The district has also signed a contract with a supermarket to supply essential goods every two days to residents.
A separate path has been created for dialysis patients at Bach Mai Hospital. Each is given a card as a pass to go in and out. The hospital sends a van to pick up and drop off the patients.
Alley 121 alone has 105 patients are getting dialysis. Another 500 people with kidney failure are getting treatment at the hospital.

 
 
go to top