“I’m Here to Defend the Wellbeing of Our Staff and Children”
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) during this Chinese New Year posed a great threat to the health and safety of everyone in the entire nation of China. It is a critical test of humanity’s will, wisdom, emotions and morality. In this test the medical staff of the Changsha Care Centre have boldly stepped up and patiently persevered at the forefront, protecting the lives of young people with special needs.
The coronavirus has been rampant, which put the Wuhan city and Hubei province under lockdown. Subsequently, Changsha launched its Level 1 highest emergency response. At 3PM on February 1st, the Changsha No.1 Welfare Centre officially started closed-off management. When Changsha Care Centre’s medical staff heard about this news, it was already 10AM on February 1st, which left only a few hours for them to get prepared.
It was by no means an easy task to transport all the necessary medications and first-aid supplies to the young people in our community group homes. The quantity of the long-term oral medication required was easier to calculate, but it was difficult to estimate the amount of emergency medication needed in this case. That day also happened to be the day we would manage the inventory of long-term medication in the group homes. There was a shortage of important medical supplies such as masks and thermometers, so the staff had to purchase them at the store…in a word, it was one thing after another. Thankfully, the medical staff had experience with several disease outbreaks in the past such as SARS, chickenpox and Hepatitis A, and they are seasoned medical staff. They are knowledgeable about how to implement some feasible measures to cut off transmission routes, and how to decide the order of priority when problems arise.
One of the staff wrote about what she experienced on the day of February 1st:
“Because my family already drove back home to eat dinner, I was waiting by the roadside to get picked up to go to the pharmacy so that I could get masks and thermometers for the group homes. Before then, I already entered and exited the Wanshi Jia group home twice. While I was waiting, I surprisingly found some mandarin oranges in my pocket. I was so thirsty, so without much thinking, I just squatted in front of the apartment complex and started to devour the oranges. At that point, a security guard approached me and said, ‘Hey, you seem really hungry!’ I was caught off guard, so I replied, ‘No, I’m not hungry. I’m just thirsty. I worked all afternoon without drinking any water.’ ‘I saw you entered and exited twice. Have you not gone back home already?’ asked the guard. ‘Oh,’ I answered, ‘I actually don’t live here. I provide medical services to youth with disabilities who live in this area. Some of them live in Room 101, Building 7. By the way, do you want some oranges?’ I took out some mandarin oranges and handed them to the guard. He waved off my invitation and said, ‘Oh you are medical staff. I’m sure you had worked really hard then. Enjoy your oranges.’ Then, I slowly realized that the guard was probably frightened when he saw me earlier, thinking that I was a suspected infected patient who recently escaped from Wuhan.
As the number of confirmed cases and deaths kept rising and the virus kept spreading throughout the country, feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion were also affecting people’s hearts. In the Wanshi Jia group home, there was a boy who was worried about a minor cold he caught, and this fear was inevitably compounded during this special time. He said to me, ‘Sister Luo, this is it.’ ‘What happened? How bad is it?’ ‘My throat is itchy and sore, and I feel really exhausted. It’s just like the symptoms of coronavirus reported on the TV. I’m probably infected and I’m going to die soon.’ ‘No. Let me see first.’ So I did a check-up for him, diagnosed his condition to be acute nasopharyngitis and prescribed some medicine that has heat-clearing and detoxifying effects. On the next day, when I did my rounds and checked up on him, he was getting distinctly better. He gave me a bright smile and kept saying ‘thank you’ to me.”
“As a medical staff, even though I didn’t go to the forefront of the epidemic area, I still fulfilled my responsibility of protecting the young people with disabilities in every family at the Changsha Care Centre, and I view my work as a part of the bigger battle against the coronavirus disease. I am confident that victory is near.”
– Nurse Luo