Risky yet humbling job


Call of duty: Faizah (second from left/below) with her colleagues putting on their PPE before work at the Forensic Medicine Department at HSA in Johor Baru. — Bernama

JOHOR BARU: Despite having to handle funeral preparation for the remains of up to 18 Covid-19 patients a day, Faizah Hamezah has never considered her task difficult.

In fact, she views her role as fardhu kifayah (compulsory communal obligation) that she is required to perform.

Faizah, 40, also continues to carry out the task, fully aware of the reality and the huge risks that she faces daily.

“(In a day), sometimes I have to manage five or six bodies, and the most that I have managed thus far is 18 in a day.

“Prior to this, I have managed HIV patients, but I think managing Covid-19 patients is an extra ‘struggle’ for me.

“At first, my family members disallowed me from continuing this job. But I told them that if I did not come forward to handle the remains of female Covid-19 patients, who else would do it?” she told Bernama at the Forensic Medicine Department at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) here recently.

The mother of five said her family now understood and supported her.“For handling Covid-19 patients, I have to wear personal protective equipment. I have to always be healthy and fit to manage the bodies, ” she said.

Faizah is among those appointed by the Johor Islamic Religious Department and received direct training from the Health Ministry (HSA’s Forensic Medicine Department), as a special officer for Covid-19 funeral management (female).

Apart from the HSA, she also carries out a similar task for Covid-19 patients at Hospital Sultan Ismail here since March last year.

Faizah, who had been handling the remains of Muslim women for the past 16 years, said what was sad was seeing family members being kept apart from the remains of their loved ones who had died from Covid-19.

“Not only can’t they see their loved ones’ faces one last time, they also have to trust those handling the bodies.

“The next of kin sometimes plead for more than two people to see the bodies (during identification), but we can’t allow it as we have to follow the standard operating procedure, ” said Faizah, who was a teacher from 1999 to 2004.

She added that the remains of Muslim Covid-19 patients in the Johor Baru district would be buried at one of three Muslim cemeteries, namely, the Ar-Raudhah Muslim Cemetery in Taman Mount Austin, Taman Impian Emas Muslim Cemetery in Skudai and Cahaya Masai Muslim Cemetery in Pasir Gudang.

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