Docs have chance to take a breather

KUALA LUMPUR: On Aug 31, frontliners battled on to save lives ravaged by Covid-19. They could not join the 64th National Day celebration in Putrajaya but from where ever they were, the frontliners paid tribute to Malaysia by giving their all.

Tomorrow, Sabah is set to host the Malaysia Day celebration in full compliance with the standard operating procedures.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) has given people reasons to be optimistic for the future, said Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) physician Dr Mohd Fadhli Zil Ikram Karim.

“We are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The effectiveness of the vaccine dispensed through PICK is showing positive effects,” he said.

Dr Mohd Fadhli said at the start of the pandemic, frontliners who had to cope with the unrelenting surge in cases, experienced physical exhaustion as they had been working tirelessly to help stem the tide.

“We were then short of beds and staff to cope with the sudden rise of Covid-19 patients at the hospital.

“Furthermore, the virus was still new to us, hence we had to frequently change the procedures,” he said, noting that as a result of the two-dose policy under PICK, hospital admissions to the intensive care unit as well as fatalities had shown a declining trend.

“It is heartening for us frontliners,” he said.

HKL forensic pathologist Dr Ahmad Hafizam Hasmi said following the implementation of PICK, frontliners could now afford to take a breather given the dramatic drop in the number of brought-in-dead cases.

He said since the third wave of the pandemic, he and his team that included volunteers, had been working daily without any rest as the remains of Covid-19 patients needed to be treated with urgency and in an orderly manner.

In fact, Dr Ahmad Hafizam said, they used to receive and keep 200 bodies at one time at HKL’s one-stop mortuary centre.

“During that time, the remains of Covid-19 Muslim patients were managed in three stages in a day; noon, evening and night. We needed the strength of two men to retrieve the bodies from the storage container and make arrangements for burials,” he shared.

Dr Muhammad Firdaus Mat Noh, from the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of Hospital Enche’ Besar Hajjah Kalsom in Kluang, Johor, said the pandemic demands that doctors work beyond their expertise.

He said they had to handle childbirths involving Covid-19 patients in personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We have to save two lives, the mother and the unborn child. The delivery process is done through caesarean, the best surgical procedure that we recommend to prevent the transmission of Covid-19,” he added.

However, Dr Muhammad Firdaus said, the situation could be heartbreaking – when doctors had to choose between the mother and her unborn child as only one life could be saved.

“These are tragic situations, and it isn’t easy to watch a newborn child without the mother or the mother’s loss of her baby.

“Let us rally together and do our best to achieve our goals of freeing the nation from the pandemic despite the challenges,” he said.

Klinik Kesihatan Kuala Lumpur ambulance driver Mizan Ahmad Fadzil said he would usually try to reduce the anxiety and fear of Covid-19 patients, especially children, in their hour of need.

To comfort young patients, he would cheer them up by masking up as superhero “Iron Man”.

“Covid-19 patients experience considerable levels of fear and anxiety as they are wheeled into the ambulance. I thought of wearing the superhero mask to comfort young patients to motivate them to recover from the infection.

“In fact, I used to get special requests from parents of Covid-19 patients who wanted ‘Iron Man’ to take them to the hospital,” he said.

Mizan, who had been involved in ferrying Covid-19 patients since the first wave, said he had initially isolated himself from his family for fear of “infecting” them with the deadly virus.

“I decided to stay away from them during the first wave as a precaution amidst my busy schedule,” he said.

HKL sports medicine physician Dr Kamaljeet Singh said the pandemic brought people together in a new way.

“What’s special this time is that Malaysians from all walks of life, regardless of race and religion, are united in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.

Sharing his sentiments, Dr Ahmad Hafizam said: “Malaysia can only win this war against Covid-19 if we keep our focus, work together and shoulder equal responsibility.”

“We are close to achieving victory. Defeating Covid-19 demands a collective effort under one ‘Malaysian Family’. We will triumph,” he said. — Bernama

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