On the Frontline of the Pandemic
A NURSE’S TESTIMONIAL
How Covid-19 has changed Alexandra Queirós, professionally and personally
Nurses are part of the brave healthcare team fighting the war against Covid-19.
Photo by Pixabay
By Jandy Sales | Published 27/10/2020
The world has been at war with the coronavirus since March. We have seen our healthcare professionals fight daily their continued battle against this invisible enemy. Forty-six-year-old, nurse, Alexandra Queirós, is one of those dedicated professionals. She works in one of the units at the Health Centre Group (ACeS), located in the District of Braga in northern Portugal.
Born in Angola, and the daughter of Portuguese parents, Queirós now experiences longer working hours and has only one day off per week. She faces arduous tasks daily and has been forced to stop visiting her parents to protect them from the threat of exposure to the virus.
Alexandra Queirós is married and the mother of two children; Gabriel, 8 years old, and Pedro, 4 years old. She lives with her family in the village of Prado. She has been a nurse for 13 years.
Nurse Alexandra Queirós talked to DISCOVER about the challenges of working daily on the frontline against the coronavirus.
Discover magazine – What have been your weekly working hours during the pandemic?
Alexandra Queirós – My previous working hours were 35 hours per week. Everything changed with the arrival of the pandemic. The lack of knowledge about the behaviour, evolution and spread of the virus has required everyone to work extra shifts. I’ve been working six days per week, with one day off.
DM – Have you been afraid of contracting the virus at any point?
Queirós – Of course I was! People tend to look at us as being fearless and armoured, but in reality, we are only human with fears and apprehensions, just like anyone else. We work in a profession that we embrace; we have been trained to know how to overcome our fears, and our main objective is to “care for our fellow human beings.”
DM – How many COVID-19 patients on average, are under your care per day?
Queirós – About 20 to 50 patients per shift; however, I’m not providing care per se. I am at the collection centre for analysis and we support the Covid Patient Monitoring consultants (ADC). After medical consultation, those who are suspected to have contracted Covid-19, are referred for testing. The physician will assess each individual and determine if the criteria has been met for testing and then are sent on for collection. I do have contact with individuals who are ill and exhibiting symptoms; however, I do not have contact with patients who are in critical condition.
DM – How many people diagnosed with the virus have been assisted at the hospital where you work, and how many are now being treated?
Queirós – In the early phase of the pandemic, we had about 700 people under surveillance; now we have about 200. Surveillance is done by daily tele-consultation. We follow-up on the person’s health/disease status and proceed according to the situation.
DM – How do you deal with the stress of frontline work against the coronavirus?
Queirós – I think it is those who I live with who suffer the most. They help me recharge my batteries so I can carry on. We are accustomed to living with stress. The pandemic has revealed and brought to light deficiencies within our healthcare system. The lack of resources, patients’ accessibility, treatment supplies, decent facilities and the lack of financial and professional recognition are some examples of stress triggers which we have had to endure for years!
DM – What has been your family’s level of concern?
Queirós – When the pandemic started, I was one of the first people to stop visiting my family. In the beginning everyone thought I was overdoing it. My parents are elderly; both are over 80 years old and have associated health problems. They were the ones who understood this the least, but I had to put their safety and well-being first. I didn’t see them for three months, but we constantly spoke on the phone. I used to go to their house, but would not go in and I always maintained a distance. When I brought my children along, my parents would come to the car to see them – always with the windows rolled up. There was no physical contact. We stopped having lunch together and doing any activities which would involve physical closeness.
Despite having thought many times about not living at home during the pandemic, I was never able to leave my children. While aware of what could occur, I chose to stay. Life is made up of risks and choices. When my parents realized that the situation was serious, they changed their feelings. Today they are grateful and express their admiration for the decisions I had to make during this difficult time.
DM – How long do you think it will take for an effective vaccine to arrive?
Queirós – I believe that a vaccine and its efficacy is critical and is not to be put on the market overnight. There are short, medium and long-term effects that need to be detected, analyzed and minimized. If we make a poorly studied vaccine available, we may run the risk of side effects in the medium and long-term.
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October 2020 : https://www.magazinediscover.com/discover-digital/