Working as a Nurse in the Most Affected Italian City During the COVID-19 Epidemic

Working as a Nurse in the Most Affected Italian City During the COVID-19 Epidemic

17.4.2020

I would never have imagined finding myself working as a clinical nurse in the most affected Italian city during the COVID-19 epidemic. I was supposed to leave Bergamo, Italy by the end of March for a project in Nairobi, Kenya, but as soon as the number of cases suddenly and sharply increased in my city, I felt I had to stay and keep faith to my decision at the basis of my career. I started working at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, defined by The New York Times as “the bleak heart of world’s deadliest Coronavirus outbreak”. 

I started working at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, defined by The New York Times as “the bleak heart of world’s deadliest Coronavirus outbreak"

I work in the haematology inpatient unit for Coronavirus-positive patients: a ward of 48 beds, 12 nurses per shift and several doctors, where patients with leukaemia, lymphomas, and cancers are admitted to face these diseases as well as the new virus. The most complicated cases are transferred to the intensive care unit as soon as their health status worsens, but this doesn’t mean that those who stay in the ward are not suffering. Doctors, nurses, and patients, every day we gave to deal with a sudden ventilation decline, with oxygen therapy, but mostly with the fear that someone else will not survive. 

 

It’s not always easy or even possible to speak with colleagues and patients because of the necessary physical barriers that we are all wearing, from a normal mask to the most complicated CPAP (device used to treat apnea and other respiratory problems), so we have learnt a new way to communicate: the eyes. And through the eyes now we tell our stories and sufferings, we laugh, we cry, but mostly we hope

It’s not always easy or even possible to speak with colleagues and patients because of the necessary physical barriers that we are all wearing, so we have learnt a new way to communicate: the eyes

Photos: Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital medical staff, Bergamo (Italy).

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