‘Do not run away’: Women fight on UK COVID frontline | News on the coronavirus pandemic
After a year that has deeply rocked the UK’s National Health Service, women working at an East Lancashire NHS Trust hospital in North West England are talking about what the coronavirus crisis has meant to them.
At the end of each shift throughout the pandemic, nurse consultant Sheeba Philip knew she could bring the virus home, where she was caring for her mother.
But every day, she put on her protective gear and kept going, driven by a sense of duty like so many other women on the front lines against COVID-19.
“I knew I couldn’t protect myself and that every day the thought that you could take home (coronavirus) was very difficult,” said the 43-year-old. “Coming home everyday was like my prayer in the car outside, ‘Please Lord get rid of all the germs in me and then I will come into the house.’ “
The first wave of the pandemic has passed, but Philip’s mother, who was on dialysis, contracted COVID-19 with the rest of the family in November.
“I knew, as a nurse, what to do; the end of time was approaching and it would not happen, ”said Philip.
“But at the same time, as a girl, I didn’t want to let go, I just wanted her to hold on to the drop of water. I wanted to say and shout out loud, “No, I don’t want her to go”. “
For paramedic Maxine Sharples, 36, a strong barrier between her life at home and her job for the Northwest Ambulance Service was a critical coping mechanism, after shift after shift of transporting patients who would never return to their families.
“As soon as I got home, I closed the door and was back to being a mom and a wife, and I just have to play that role until I get back to work,” she said.
“I think a lot of people in the NHS have this ability to shut down. I don’t think you were born with it. You just learned it and maybe it’s making it a bit difficult for you, but you kind of have to do it.
The intensive care nurse
ICU nurse Jacqui Jocelyn, 53, has worked in nursing for 30 years. Twenty of them were dedicated to the intensive care unit at East Lancashire Hospital.
After spending the year with patients at the end of their lives, when their families were not allowed to do so, Jocelyn’s father was admitted to the same ward.
“He was in the unit for three weeks, actually. He fought a good fight. He was a great character, ”she said.
“All the staff were wonderful to him. I don’t think it was just because it was my dad. But they went out of their way to make him feel special and try to improve himself, but unfortunately he fought a losing battle and died.
Jocelyn’s daughter Ruby Jocelyn, 19, was inspired by her mother during the pandemic and decided to become a nurse instead of a business and economics degree. Her grandfather’s care by intensive care staff prompted her to pursue intensive care, following her mother.
“When I started in December, it was so, so busy,” Ruby said. “The age was going down and there were people my mom’s and dad’s age there, and their kids are obviously the same age as me, and I just couldn’t believe it and that made me believe it.” made me want to help instead of running away.
Speaking about her mother, Ruby described Jacqui as a “badass”, but the pandemic had taken its toll.
“I think the pandemic didn’t necessarily shatter her, but it took a layer of courage away from her,” she said.
“And I think the first-hand experience, too, as a patient’s daughter, and not being able to see her father or care for him the way she wanted, I think she struggled at the time, but this also gave him a bit of, like courage too.