March 14 is celebrated as Medicine Day, a version of National Doctors’ Day celebrated in other countries, since 1919, in Turkey. It's an occasion to celebrate the profession and voice the problems they face. For over a year health care workers have been facing an unprecedented problem: the pandemic.
It's a time to show respect and admiration for doctors, nurses and people working in all branches of medicine. The day will be the highlight of their tireless fight against the coronavirus outbreak. But many feel too exhausted to mark the day. Indeed, most health care workers would be either in intensive care or in emergency wards as the rest of the country hails their efforts.
On Thursday, the country marked the anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in the country. That date also changed the lives of thousands of medical professionals, from infectious disease experts, nurses, to dentists and pharmacists. They sacrificed their time by working long shifts to cope with the influx of patients in the early days of the outbreak. At times, they sacrificed their lives as they were infected while attending to patients. For survivors, it was a traumatic year as they saw colleagues succumbing to the virus but kept fighting with undaunting spirits. Nevertheless, despite their resolution, their endurance grows thin.
Professor Şükran Köse heads the infectious diseases clinic at Tepecik Training and Research Hospital in the western province of Izmir. The pandemic hospital, which was closed to other patients, has been active in efforts to help coronavirus patients since March 2020. Köse, a doctor for 39 years, treated countless patients suffering from infections, but COVID-19 was an altogether different experience for her. “I was thinking what should we do next when I was examining my first coronavirus patient here. We were trying to draw our own road map before the Health Ministry gave us treatment protocols. It is a great responsibility. I still lose sleep thinking about how my patients are struggling against the disease. My body and my soul, it is all tired. The only thing that gives us solace is seeing patients recovering,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday.
Associate professor Nimet Şenoğlu, who works in the emergency ward as a trainer for young doctors, says she went through the most difficult days of her 24-year career. Şenoğlu herself was infected but recovered. “Just when you thought this nightmare would be over, you see the number of cases rising again. I think it would be better to take those people who do not follow the rules (and cause a surge in the number of cases) to the emergency rooms and show how those patients are doing here. They should see what we are going through while trying to help the patients,” Şenoğlu said. For her, Medicine Day is no different than other days. “But it will be truly an occasion to celebrate once this outbreak is over,” she added.