Turkey is fighting what leaders call an “invisible enemy” in the form of the coronavirus. Health care workers across the country are essentially warriors on the frontline of this ongoing battle, sacrificing their lives with barely enough time to leave hospital wards as cases continue to mount.
Intensive care units are the battlefield, and it is there where medical staff fight for at least six hours per shift. At Meram Faculty of Medicine hospital in the central city of Konya, doctors, nurses and attendants offered insight into life at the intensive care unit.
Covered head-to-toe in protective suits and masks, staff can recognize one another only by name tags. Before starting their shifts, they spend about 30 minutes putting on all the protective material needed to conduct their shift. With protective scrubs, hazmat suits, N95 masks, face shields and other accessories, all look alike – nameless warriors dedicated to the fight to save lives. They are not allowed to carry cellphones during the shift and cannot leave the intensive care ward at any time.
As for removing protective gear, this also takes time, meaning more delays at the end of their shift – throughout the course of which they can neither eat nor even go to the bathroom. At the Konya hospital, where 30 patients are being treated, 80 staff, including doctors, nurses, attendants and cleaners, work in two six-hour shifts with a short break between. But the end of the shift does not mean they are free to go home. They are accommodated at specially allocated dormitories at the end of the day as a precautionary measure to prevent them from spreading the disease to their families and others.
Mustafa Yüksel, a medical assistant for 21 years, says they have been performing their duty “with love and passion."
“It has been six days since I was separated from my wife and our triplets. I stay in a students’ dormitory so as not to harm them,” he says.
Yüksel and others work tirelessly to attend to all the needs of the patients, from treatment to their personal grooming. “It is difficult to work wearing a mask for six hours, but we are here anyway. We just want people not to leave home. We are away from our loved ones so you won’t have to be,” he says.
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