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On coronavirus frontlines, it's an emotional rollercoaster for medics

By Chi Le   June 11, 2021 | 07:00 pm PT
On coronavirus frontlines, it's an emotional rollercoaster for medics
A nurse at the ICU of Hanoi's National Hospital for Tropical Diseases takes a nap during a night shift in May 2021. Photo courtesy of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
A scream of anguish echoes in the night at a Hanoi hospital. Another Covid-19 patient has died despite doctors' best efforts.

Nguyen Thi Thuong, 36, who works at the ICU at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said she could hear the sound ringing in her ears.

There is a male nurse at the hospital who often volunteers to perform the last rites of those who die of Covid. He wanted to be there for them when their loved ones could not. That night another patient failed to make it, and the nurse ran outside and screamed his lungs out as if to let all the pain out of his body.

Thuong recalled: "My eyes blurred. I just wanted to hug him and cry. The pandemic is too much.

"There has never been a time when we had to work so much. The pressure is tremendous. We stay up all nights literally."

All the patients in the ICU are severe cases, requiring ventilators or ECMO. They needed full-time care, from being fed to having their diapers changed.

She has seen nothing like this, not even during previous waves, and the workload has increased by five, even six, times, she said.

But even after all that, Thuong said the time she spent in the ICU would be the most "unforgettable."

"Who will not shed a tear at seeing a child crying all night because she misses her mother's milk? Who can contain their sorrow at seeing parents fighting the coronavirus, leaving their children uncared for?"

Thuong spoke about her wonderful colleagues and the camaraderie they share while helping combat the coronavirus. Their small stature could never overshadow their courageous heart and unfaltering will to battle to protect those around them, she said.

"I love those girls."

It is not all sadness and pain at the ICU however, she hastened to add.

One time its doctors and nurses unit managed to perform a bronchoscopy on two severely ailing Covid patients, something that had never been done before at the ICU, and it helped remove phlegm from the patients' airways, allowing them to breathe.

"The joy visibly showed itself on the doctor's face once he could see clearly every alveolus that had been occupied by the coronavirus."

"We just tried to do our best to save our patients, and we have done it many times. That for us is the most valuable thing in this life."

On Thursday 72 people recovered, taking the total number of recoveries since the start of the pandemic to 3,708.

Vietnam has been grappling with a new wave since April 27 and so far community infections have been found in 39 cities and provinces.

 
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