HanoiNear New Year’s Eve, the phone bell in the emergency area of the Hospital for the Treatment of Covid-19 patients rang, a critical F0 about to be transferred from the Viet Xo Friendship Hospital.
Receiving information, Doctor Tran Huyen Trang (leader of the crew) immediately mobilized human resources to be ready to receive patients at the emergency reception room. According to the procedure, the hospital only accepts patients who are critically ill, critically ill and with prior contact via the hotline. During the transfer to the hospital, the medical staff will complete all the information and status of the patient so that it does not take much time to complete the procedure.
Male patient, 97 years old, seriously ill, infected with Covid-19, on mechanical ventilation, requiring endotracheal intubation, poor prognosis. A doctor, two nurses quickly give first aid, review the index, set up the drug line. This is also the last call to the critical ward on the eve of the new year.
The clock inched towards 0:00, his condition was stable but still serious, he was taken through the red channel to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). From outside the ward, Dr. Trang used the walkie-talkie, took advantage of sending New Year greetings to colleagues inside, and then continued her daily work.
“For the first time on New Year’s Eve, hard work and stress are inevitable, but there is nothing happier than being able to save lives,” said Dr. Trang.
The Hospital for the Treatment of Covid-19 Patients, affiliated to Hanoi Medical University (with the largest scale in the North), is a last-line hospital that treats severe, critical F0 patients, requires mechanical ventilation, and needs life function support and filtration. blood, ECMO in Hanoi. Currently, this facility takes care of more than 150 F0 patients, of which nearly 100 patients with invasive ventilation, two EMCOs, 45 patients need to be intubated.
In addition to incoming calls, each on-call, medical staff is also responsible for informing and explaining the patient’s condition to family members, at least once a day. In the days leading up to Tet, the calls were more intense. The phone rang non-stop. Doctors and nurses both treat and take advantage of calling people to rest assured, preparing to welcome Tet.
In Doctor Trang’s shift, there were two seriously ill patients, the border of life and death was close. The doctor who coordinates the staff regularly updates the family with news. A male patient, 67 years old, with multiple underlying diseases, chronic kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disease, was hospitalized in a state of septic shock, severe pneumonia. After two weeks of intensive treatment, the patient’s progress worsened, the whole lung was damaged, “almost no healthy lung area”, the indexes continuously decreased.
After many hours of emergency, his condition did not improve. Doctor Trang retreated out, directly called family members, informed that “the patient is no longer able to cure”.
“Even though I understood the situation, my family was still in shock, and they were still going to the grave on the last day of the year, so it was even harder to deal with. I was heartbroken myself,” said Dr. Trang. An hour earlier, the other critically ill patient also died.
According to Dr. Trang, in the past, emergency doctors could explain directly to the family. When the pandemic broke out, Covid-19 patients had only one communication channel through medical staff. Therefore, the death of a Covid-19 patient always makes doctors and nurses more tormented, even inadequate. Many patients do not see their family members, do not say the last word, the pain is extremely heavy, especially the moment of the new year.
Therefore, even though they cannot answer the phone 24/24, doctors still arrange to call each family at the end of the day, all missed calls are called back for maximum support. The biggest difference, the calls on New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve also include short New Year wishes and thanks instead of just asking and answering about the illness.
“As an emergency, it’s very difficult to let everything go as planned because it’s unpredictable. The only sure thing is to try our best for the patient,” the doctor said.
Doctor Nguyen Minh Nguyen, the head of the team on duty the day before, was also Continuously handling calls during the night. Recently, the workload has increased due to some administrative departments dealing with paperwork, expenses, etc., while F0 in Hanoi has continuously increased. He compared it with the work in the emergency ward before, treating 50-70 people a day, 10 patients recovering, and now the volume and pressure are greater. Outside, there was a rush of phones, F0 just arrived. In the recovery area, the shadow of a doctor wearing a protective suit quickly pushes the patient in and out, attentively monitoring SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) or watching X-ray films.
In addition, the working environment of Covid-19 hospital staff is more specific, patients are cared for continuously every hour, every minute regardless of holidays, avoiding errors. Everyone encouraged each other to take the patient’s recovery as a joy to welcome Tet.
During the shift, a 52-year-old patient progressed seriously, it was difficult to predict anything. The patient was hospitalized since January 15, had difficulty breathing, had to put on a mechanical ventilator, did not respond, the respiratory efficiency was poor, took supportive measures but did not improve, “if maintained forever, respiratory failure, not enough blood oxygen leading to death”. Immediately, the team decided to place EMCO, an oxygen device through the outer membrane of the body – the last weapon and means of respiratory support for critical cases caused by Covid-19. At the same time, Doctor Nguyen called to inform the family to prepare psychologically, even though it was 29 Tet.
“At a sensitive time, doctors need to convey information that is easy to understand, slowest, in a short time to relieve pain for family members. Although it is difficult, it is a mandatory task,” said Dr. Nguyen.
Up to now, the number of new cases in Hanoi continues to increase, nearly 3,000 cases a day. Statistics from the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment, Ministry of Health, as of January 31, the city recorded nearly 700 severe and critical cases. At the hospital treating Covid-19 patients, on average, 10-25 new cases are received every day, mainly serious diseases, Tet holiday remains unchanged.
However, before the New Year’s moment approaches, the hospital organizes a package of cakes and peaches in the lobby to have a taste of Tet.
Doctor Trang’s husband is also on duty on New Year’s Eve. The couple encourages each other to make efforts, using family as the driving force. And Doctor Nguyen, with his previous experience in fighting the epidemic, told himself firmly because there were still many patients who needed him. It seems that the moment of New Year’s Eve is no longer so important, “as long as the patient is at peace”.
After the 24-hour shift, the crew returned to rest but continued to monitor, provide remote support and be present whenever the patient needed.