CHENNAI: Every time M Priya’s one-and-a-half-year-old son rushed to her with outstretched arms, the nursing mother, with a heavy heart, had to refrain from carrying him as she was entering home after Covid duty. Those were the most difficult moments, she told Express.The nurse, who works at the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Government Hospital for Women and Children, Egmore, even contracted Covid, after which she had to remain quarantined, and then head back to work.Dr S Vijaya, director of the institute, said 750 pregnant women have been treated for Covid-19 at the hospital. Thankfully, the hospital received no new cases on Monday.
The nurses said taking care of infected mothers and their babies was the toughest job, but it gave them great happiness and satisfaction, especially when they saw their patients recover. Ten staff nurses at the institute also tested positive during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in the State.Sharing her experience of balancing work and home life amid the pandemic, Priya said she felt like hugging and kissing her son after getting home every day, but had to control her emotions and stay away from her baby.
“After each week on Covid-19 duty, I had to test negative for coronavirus before being allowed home. My little son would be waiting at the doorsteps. As soon as I entered, he would come and stretch out his tiny hands, gesturing for me to carry him. But I couldn’t do it. My husband would come and carry him away from my sight. Those were the most difficult moments of my life,” said an emotional Priya.
She tested positive in May, and was admitted at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, where she was on oxygen support for a couple of days. After recovering and completing her quarantine period, she wanted to get back to work, and her family pleaded with her not to return. “But I told them I cannot shirk my responsibilities,” Priya recounted.
S Leelavathy, another staff nurse, said the hospital started treating coronavirus-positive mothers from the end of April. “Those were difficult days. But whenever mothers and babies recovered, I felt happy. They used to thank us for taking care of them even when their relatives were hesitant to come close,” the staff nurse said.
“I can’t forget a patient who was carrying twins. She was denied admission at other hospitals, after which she came here and gave birth. Though she was infected, the babies tested negative. She had been married for many years and it was her first pregnancy. She became very sick due to Covid-19, but later recovered and was discharged with her babies. She was very thankful to us, and that made me happy,” Leelavathy recalled.
F Jerina, another staff nurse, said it took days for them to get used to wearing PPE kits and masks as they used to sweat a lot. “We knew the complications of Covid-19, and that we would be exposed to the infection, but couldn’t stay away from our duty,” Jerina said.
N Catherine Celia, nursing superintendent, Grade-II, said that when even attenders couldn’t be allowed when infected mothers gave birth, the staff nurses took care of everything — from changing sanitary pads to helping the mothers feed their babies. “That’s what the nursing profession is all about,” Celia asserted.