Diary of a medical intern (end): ’The last patient has left the corona ward’

19 May 2020

Medical students are partaking in the fight against the coronavirus. Medical intern Norah (not her real name) from Nijmegen works in the nursing department of a hospital in Brabant. For Vox, she is keeping a diary. ’We hiked and picnicked in the forest. I have missed it.’

Sunday, 10th of May – Dump

Regular patients are now the majority again in the lung department. The situation at the hospital is getting back to normal. A difference compared to regular times, however, is that some departments are still closed. Consequentially, many patients with other problems are now coming into the lung department.

Besides that, we have many potential Corona cases on the ward. Many of them are coming in through first aid. There, they are tested for security reasons, even when they come in for something other than Corona. But once tested, they are considered a potential Corona case and come to our department. Because of that, our ward sometimes seems like a collection-point, a kind of dump. Our nurses are far from happy because of that. They are not trained to care for patients with all these different conditions.

Tuesday, 12th of May – International Nurses Day

Today was International Nurse Day, a special day. Presents, from clothes to chocolate to music boxes, are distributed among the personnel. It was a nice day, it made us feel appreciated. I am very grateful for it.

Photo: Tom Hessels

It seems crazy that I have been working in patient care for a mere two months and now receive presents for International Nurse Day. I think that the rest of the personnel deserves it more – others are working here the entire year. But I’m also very happy with the sandwich maker and the other stuff I received. It obviously feels like an appreciation for my efforts as well.

Wednesday, 13th of May – Picnicking

My first free day since the regulations have been loosened. And it was a good one: I have talked to two good friend for the first time in a long while. We hiked and picnicked in the forest, I have missed it. We can do those kinds of things more often in the upcoming period. When I think of that, I feel very happy.

Thursday, 14th of May – Changes

During the next months, I expect to stay as a secretary in the lung department. There hasn’t been a permanent secretary before the crisis, but the nurses would like to have one from now on. A permanent secretary knows the working process and the people in the department. Consequentially, the lines become shorter and the work goes faster.

Friday, 15th of May – Calm and trust

Today, the last patient who had tested positive for Corona was able to return home from our ward. The man spent more than a month in our department. At his worst, I didn’t think we would be able to save him. Luckily, we managed – and I’m very happy about it!

’If a new Corona-patient is admitted, we are prepared better.’

The only sad thing is that I can’t personally be there for his goodbye today. It’s my free day. A shame, but I still feel as if I was able to build a good connection with him. I took care of almost everything surrounding his dismissal. Just yesterday, I was giving his family and him instructions for their new situation at home. But of course, it’s more happiness than anything else. The most important thing is, that he is healthy again and can return back home.

The fact that we have managed to hold up during the last period, gives a lot of relieve. If a new Corona patient is admitted, we are prepared better. We now know way better what to expect and everyone knows his or her task. That gives faith in the future!

This is the final part of the series ’Diary of a medical intern.’

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