Front-line medical staff double as counselors

China Daily
Chen Zhuo
2020-03-05 14:19:33
Liu Yongning (second from right) on shift duty with her colleagues at Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Feb 15. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Editor's note: This series tells the stories of selfless individuals, from medical workers to volunteers, who are bravely fighting the virus outbreak with extraordinary dedication.

Ever since she arrived in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on Feb 9, Liu Yongning, chief nurse at the First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, has been having difficulty in either sleeping or eating.

"Now I understand. It could happen when every muscle is tensed, and you keep busy all the time," Liu said. She would sleep only two hours, and eat just an orange and a cup of yogurt the entire day.

Liu is now in charge of disinfection and isolation control of her hospital's medical team at Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of novel coronavirus outbreak.

The hospital from Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning province, has sent 20 doctors and 150 nurses to Wuhan.

With a capacity of 1,600 beds, the hospital was built in only 10 days to treat novel coronavirus patients.

It was Liu and her colleagues-five doctors and 38 nurses-who took over an inpatient area and received the first group of patients officially admitted to Leishenshan at 5:30 pm on Feb 12. They operate around the clock on three shifts.

"The patients almost filed in as soon as the ward opened. It was a big test for us," said Liu. The first area admitted 35 patients within one hour and the second 45 within two hours.

According to her, most of the patients face the problem of low blood oxygen and rapid change in illness, which requires oxygen absorption and electrocardiogram monitoring. "Some of them get emotional and need psychological care."

Liu said they have to be well prepared before receiving new patients-from moving in all the medical equipment and devices, to adjusting and testing the computer systems, and preparing daily necessities. "We have gained some experience. It should be easier later," she said.

Normally, in an ordinary hospital, a security guard or the family members would be called to deal with patients. In this case, there was no one else they could rely on, she said.

On Feb 8, Lantern Festival, 511 medical workers from 20 hospitals in Dalian gathered within four hours and set out for Wuhan on four chartered flights. The next day, another team from other cities in Liaoning province left Shenyang for Wuhan.

Out of the 32 inpatient areas at the hospital, Liaoning medical team, which consisted of 1,013 members, took over 17 areas with 780 beds. By Feb 15, they opened 10 inpatient areas and received 372 patients.

Liaoning medical team is the largest one at Leishenshan Hospital, said Xu Yinghui, vice-president of Dalian Medical University and head of the First Affiliated Hospital of DMU.

Xu said doctors and nurses volunteered to join the team, which "shows their dedication and their readiness to take up responsibilities".

"With the strong leadership of the Party, the unity of the people, and the support of all sections of society, we are sure to overcome the epidemic quickly," said Xu.

Zhao Zuowei, director of Dalian's health commission, said all the hospitals had sent their best doctors and nurses to the front line.

"We have all given the best to Wuhan and they comprise a powerful armor for Hubei (to win battle against the virus)," he said.

Ma Xiaowei, head of the National Health Commission, said at a news conference on Feb 28 that more than 40,000 medical workers from around the country had been sent to Hubei province to help combat the disease and save lives.

Dalian News Media Group contributed to this story.

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