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Fighting the Unknown: Wuhan Nurse Describes "Heartbreaking" Job

Interviewer: Aurora Chen

Editors: Tiffany Chen, Joyce Hai, Demi Leng, Shannon Tan, Cynthia Zhang, Molly Zhao, Leon Zhou

Interviewee: Anonymous Nurse

Question: What is your name, status, and hospital?

a) I am a nurse that worked on the front lines at Wuhan Jintintan hospital (武汉金银潭医院).

Question: What period did you go to help out the patients?

a) From 1/27/20 to 3/31/20.

Question: You are so brave! Can you walk me through your thought process behind deciding to go to Wuhan to work on the frontlines, despite knowing that your life is at risk?

a) Yes. When I swore to be a medical worker, I took the Nightingale’s oath; thus, immediately volunteering on the front lines was kind of an instinctive reaction for me. Second, as an active citizen of my country, I believe I should stand up to help when the country and our people are in crisis.

Question: Please describe your experiences in the hospital.

a) When I first arrived in Wuhan, there were no crowds or vehicles on the street. Wuhan was like an empty city; the whole city seemed “sick.” On the day of our arrival, we received pre-job training at the medical treatment center and were assigned to work in various wards. We administered fluids, performed a lot of disinfection work, and cared for patients on ventilators and monitors. We also collected specimens and accompanied CT examinations. Furthermore, we performed disease rehabilitation therapies and provided guidance and psychological care to relieve patients' anxiety

Question: What were some difficulties you came across?

a) The ward building was built during SARS in 2003, hence, it was a bit outdated and

uncomfortable to work in. Therefore, the entire ward building had to be ventilated, but the

central air conditioner could not be used. It was winter when I went to help in Wuhan, so it

was freezing every day. Furthermore, some of the older patients were not very fluent in

Mandarin but spoke in different dialects, so communication was a bit of a struggle.

Question: When were you able to return home?

a) On March 27, all patients in the North Fourth Ward of Jinyintan Hospital of Wuhan City were discharged. We returned to Shanghai on the 31st.

Question: Were there enough resources available at first? (such as PPE, beds, ventilators, food, etc.)

a) Initially, the protective equipment was inadequate, and many materials did not meet the medical standards. The catering in the hotel also had insufficient resources in the beginning. There was too few staff working on the midnight shift and too many patients in the hospital, leading to shortages of medical equipment.

Question: What is one unforgettable memory that you have had with a patient?

a) On one occasion, an elderly patient suddenly insisted on taking off his mask and going back home. We tried to let his son call him and calm him down, but to no avail. As a medical worker, I knew that this elderly gentleman did not mean to behave like that, but his behavior was an effect of the physiological change caused by the disease. However, the old man kept saying, "I want to go home!" and it was heartbreaking for me to hear that.

Question: What was your relationship like with your co-workers?

a) We were all thrust into a completely new environment with a new team and everyone has their way of thinking and their style of working. There was a break-in period where there were some clashes between co-workers, but that is normal. In the end, we worked together collaboratively. I am very happy to be able to work with such a heroic team.

Question: When did you feel the most fulfilled?

a) My biggest fulfillment comes from knowing that my team and I have saved lives. When patients come in, they are depressed and stressed. We communicated with the patients, soothed their emotions, and gave them confidence in curing the disease. They were grateful to our Shanghai nursing team! We were ecstatic as well.

Question: Did you ever think about quitting the job?

a) Never.

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