"Medical Fighters" at the Grassroots Front

"At present, grassroots hospitals are short of epidemic prevention materials, such as surgical masks, isolation gowns and alcohol. Surgical masks are issued to medical staff every ten days. Ten masks for each person. Used masks shall be replaced every four or six hours as usual. However, given a shortage of masks, we're afraid that there may be a suspension of supply when we run out of masks. So we draw a line across the dressing room and hang the used masks on the line when we knock off to have them sterilized under the ultraviolet ray. Then the masks can be used again." said Yiyi, a 34-year-old nurse working at a hospital in Guangxi. "As for the isolation gowns, it'll be severely inefficient if we spray the gowns with alcohol and sterilize them under the ultraviolet ray for half an hour after we treat one patient. Now we do it in this way. Soak the isolation gowns used in the day in hot water and then sterilize them under the ultraviolet ray. We reuse the gowns until they should be scrapped."

▲Medical staff sprayed the sterilizer multiple times each day to sterilize each region in the hospital.    Feb. 12, 2020

Yiyi returned to the work position on the day of Spring Festival at short notice. She had made a plan for the Spring Festival -- taking her three-year-old child back to the hometown to visit grandparents. But the epidemic outbreak was getting worse and worse. All the medical staff had to give up their holiday and return to their work positions. Even as a nurse with over ten years of experience, Yiyi was uneasy about this outbreak. "This is the first time that I've faced such a severe epidemic since I became a nurse. Working at the grassroots front, it's impossible to remain calm. Nevertheless, a position at the grassroots front gives me a higher sense of responsibility. I keep in mind the contingency procedures and measures every day."

▲A triage reception was set in the front of the hospital gate, where specific outpatient services and channels were provided for patients with a fever.    Feb. 13, 2020

Currently, even though there was zero confirmed case in the region where the hospital Yiyi worked for located, all the medical staff carefully carried out routine epidemic prevention work in accordance with the epidemic prevention procedures required by the superior authority. A number of grassroots hospitals had no infectious disease departments, which indicated insufficient epidemic prevention materials. Moreover, the priority of medical material supply should be given to the hospitals in the areas undergoing a severe outbreak as well as the hospitals treating infected patients. As a result, it was hard to ensure sufficient material supply to grassroots hospitals. In order to tackle the epidemic, leaders of the hospital divided the hospital into specific areas based on the layout of the hospital at first, formulated corresponding procedures and formed epidemic prevention teams. "Every day, I visualize infected patients being sent to our hospital, and how should I cope with it? So I pay more attention to personal prevention than before. I'm clearly aware that what a nightmare infected medical personnel could bring. Infected medical personnel would be a moving source of infection."

▲Medical staff hung out the used masks and protective gowns to sterilize them under the ultraviolet ray when they were off duty, so as to enable the reuse.    Feb. 13, 2020

Yiyi’s families keep staying at home most of time and go out when it is needed. Although Yiyi has paid attention to personal prevention against infection, she still considers herself as the most likely person who can be infected in the family. Therefore, she doesn’t have too much contact with her families after she comes back home from hospital. She even refused her three-year-old son once the kid wanted a hug from her. “My kid didn’t understand why I refused him, so I explained that I was fighting with a bad guy named “VIRUS”, and I could give him a hug when I won the war.” The little kid didn’t understand well but he wouldn’t lose his temper and ask for a hug after the explanation. Instead, he would say “Mom, take care!” He also would remind the families to wear a mask when he saw someone went out of home.

▲Protective gowns were sterilized under the ultraviolet lights to enable reuse.    Feb. 13, 2020

▲A fully-armed physician was treating a patient.    Feb. 13, 2020

This epidemic fighting is a white war. Medical staff as the vanguard were enduring massive work and mental pressure due to insufficient supporting materials and constant fighting. "My colleagues encourage each other by sharing daily epidemic data of the country. We feel encouraged when the data show an optimistic trend, like the increasing number of discharged patients or the successive decline of confirmed cases. The government's policy and strategies are sound and wise. This epidemic will pass soon as long as we make thorough protective preparations." Yiyi said with great confidence. (Written by: Lu Zhenyan)

Note: Aliases are adopted in this article.


If you are interested to be involved in the COVID-19 response, please go to WV China's website in Hong Kong -  www.wvchina.org

For more information, please contact:

Jonathan Su, Director of Resource Development, World Vision China
Mobile: +86-155 8708 7042
Email: jonathan_su@wvi.org