Pandemic-free: Onus On ‘The Malaysian Family’

Pandemic-free: Onus On ‘The Malaysian Family’

KUALA LUMPUR: This article is specially written in conjunction with Merdeka Day which is celebrated every year on Aug 31.After two years battling COVID-19 and with no end to the coronavirus in sight, more people are now gripping with pandemic fatigue due to the pandemic’s impact on their lives.

However, for the unsung heroes who have been on the frontline since the COVID-19 reached the Malaysian shores, the term ‘fatigue’ or ‘despair’ has not found its way into their dictionary, so-to-speak.

In an interview with Bernama in conjunction with the Merdeka Day celebration, Sungai Buloh Hospital Director, Dr Kuldip Kaur Prem Singh said what these frontliners need is cooperation and support from the public.

“Frontliners and members of the public should soldier on through the spirit of ‘The Malaysian Family’ and uphold the ‘kita jaga kita’ (we take care of ourselves) slogan in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, efforts to achieve the goal of herd immunity should be the priority amid the pandemic challenges,” he said in a phone interview.

STRESS AMONG HEALTHCARE CITIZENS

Dr Kuldip Kaur said, since the onset of the pandemic in Malaysia, healthcare workers have to make great sacrifices, especially in terms of spending their time with their family, with some experiencing stress.

“We, as hospital citizens, are generally stretched during the crisis given the increasing demands to work longer hours with not enough rest and the mounting pressure to cope with non-stop admissions of COVID-19 patients,” she shared.

“But we can’t give up easily in our journey to achieving freedom from COVID-19,” she said. In dealing with stress or burnout among hospital staff, she said the Sungai Buloh Hospital has initiated a programme called Psychological First Aid (PFA) that allows staff to share their problems through stress management sessions.

“This programme which is managed by psychiatrists and psychologists here has definitely helped the hospital management, especially in improving various aspects including managing the stress and burnout issues among healthcare workers,” she noted.

Dr Kuldip Kaur believes that the general public’s show of appreciation towards frontliners’ commitment also bolstered their spirits as they continue to fight the tough battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Malaysians must continue to show their support for all healthcare workers in curbing the spread of COVID-19. At the end of the day, we want to win this war together,” she added.

ALL GEARED UP

Since becoming a full COVID-19 hospital in March, Dr Kuldip Kaur said several initiatives have been introduced, including the establishment of a Hospital Bed Management Unit to manage and safeguard COVID-19 patients.

The hospital has also set up a porter unit which serves to manage the movement of patients.”The entire work scope of healthcare workers has been reorganised with improvements made to fully handle the treatment of all COVID-19 patients,” she said, adding that her team is always prepared for any unforeseen eventualities.

“The Sungai Buloh Hospital is among several hospitals under the Ministry of Health which has been designated to handle the novel coronavirus outbreak.

SHARING BEREAVED FAMILIES’ GRIEF

Meanwhile, Resident Medical Officer at Johor Baharu Regency Specialist Hospital, Dr Nagappan N. Sekar, in relating his experiences treating COVID-19 patients, said to date he has not forgotten one of the earliest cases of a man in his 50’s.

“I recall receiving a diabetic patient, who had to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with breathing difficulties due to COVID-19 infection.

He was immediately given supplemental oxygen but as his condition worsened, he had to be aided by other respiratory support.”At that time, he was alone at the hospital and several of his friends were seen there. It was learnt that his family members were overseas,” he said.

According to Dr Nagappan, he and his team did all they could by giving the best treatment for him but his condition deteriorated and in the end he succumbed to the virus.”…watching him battle with the disease was also difficult for us,” he said.

“What was heart-wrenching was when the patient’s own family members did not get to see him and be by his side in his last moments. I can understand the mental trauma that the patient’s family had to endure,” he shared.

Noting that the case is a wake-up call for him and the community at large, Dr Nagappan said the people should continue to support and help each other, avoid negative thoughts as well as protect themselves and others during the pandemic.

“We are all at the end of the nation’s line of defence. And, we still have a long way to go before we see the light at the end of the tunnel. As such, mental health is very important. Do some activities that can make you and your family happy. Let us hope that we can get out of this pandemic fast,” he said.

Dr Nagappan said there is however a silver lining to the pandemic as reflected by the spirit of solidarity among Malaysians who took initiatives to help each other regardless of race, religion or background.

“Many of them have selflessly stepped forward to help fellow citizens ride through the COVID-19 crisis, without expecting any returns.

That was the best thing that has happened to us as a nation.”To drive the message home, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his inaugural speech called on the people to be united as one ‘Malaysian Family’,” he noted.

He said the pandemic also saw various organisations offering assistance to the needy including setting up food banks.

Wrapping up the interview, Dr Nagappan urged Malaysians from all walks of life to have their vaccination jabs as soon as possible and observe standard operating procedures as a symbol of solidarity towards steering the nation out of the COVID-19 pandemic.– BERNAMA