9 June 2020
Dr Erica Williams, Consultant, Medicine for Older People, shares her experience of working on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic:
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis I have moved through several different departments. Initially I worked on one of the general medical wards, then I did a period of ‘front door’ working seeing the over eighty year-old acute admissions and over the last three weeks I have been working as one of the consultants on our dedicated ‘Covid unit’.
During this time I have seen the challenges posed to all staff and have been amazed and encouraged by their resilience, selflessness and hard work.
Initially the main stresses came from the uncertainty of what was to come. The feeling of impending doom, particularly in light of media coverage from those countries ‘ahead’ of us in the crisis. The stress this caused amongst all staff was palpable.
Our staff have been faced with the knowledge that they were (and are) exposing themselves, and by extension, potentially their families to Covid-19. In addition they have had the stressed caused by changes in the infrastructure that allows them to come to work e.g. childcare and transport.
Despite these stresses, during this time I have seen staff go above and beyond for their patients and their families. I have seen consultants and junior doctors from all medical specialties pull together and work for the greater good of their patients – Often outside of their comfort zones.
One of the challenges I have found particularly emotionally difficult is the fact that patient’s relatives have not been allowed to visit the hospital to see their relatives, except briefly during the end of life period.
During this time, funding by Southampton Hospitals Charity has provided items to several areas of the hospital including radios, phones, coffee machines and boost boxes. These have provided a much needed boost in morale during our lowest times.
Charity funding has also provided furnishings for wellbeing areas for staff to go to during periods of insurmountable stress. These have been invaluable.
Now that we are moving to a new phase of the crisis, ongoing support is needed more than ever as situational fatigue continues. I am so proud to be working as a consultant at University Hospital Southampton.
The way in which the Trust, and all staff members have stepped up has been inspiring.
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