My name is Maureen Wairuge and I am a physiotherapist in a community hospital in Middlesex. I provide intermediate care in the community to people who have recently been discharged home from hospital but still require active treatment and support. Mostly these are elderly people with orthopedic and other mobility issues.
During the COVID-19 period, things changed. In addition to providing the usual physical care and support, we were required to also take care of patients with respiratory problems, as hospitals which were overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, sent home those patients who could be taken care of at home. Most of these patients, including some who had come out of ITU, still had breathing and mobility issues, and required respiratory and chest physiotherapy. Furthermore, some of these patients had been intubated while in hospital, and were still very weak, while others had lost muscle power and had problems with movement.
My role in addition to routine physiotherapy, now included providing chest and rehabilitation physiotherapy. Initially, I was very scared, as things had evolved very quickly in the wake of COVID-19. I was scared of getting infected with COVID-19 as a frontline worker, and I was also scared of passing the infection to my family.
I remember my first COVID-19 patient vividly. He had been discharged from ITU, and although he was weak and had mobility issues, he did not come home with any mobility equipment. As his physiotherapist, I had to do so many things out of the ordinary, to get him stable and help him settle in, including having to hug him for support, which worried me in the circumstances.
To help me cope with the situation, I prayed and just asked God to protect me and my family. The prayers helped me a lot and I was able to care and support the patient like I would any other patient. I had received training to care for COVID-19 patients and had adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), which also helped.
The fear of infecting my family was also always at the back of my mind, especially as my daughter is only seven years old. My approach for dealing with this, in addition to praying, was to take all prevention precautions very seriously, during work, on my way home and when I got home. At work, I always used the full PPE. When I got home, I would avoid hugging my family before I had showered and washed and cleaned my clothes, shoes, bags and any equipment I came with from work. I also tried to keep a distance, especially from my daughter, which was really difficult. I did this for two weeks from my initial contact and have continued to do so throughout this period. Fortunately, I never developed any symptoms of COVID-19 and I have remained well since.
As a physiotherapist looking after COVID-19 patients it is unavoidable to be in close contact with the patient. My faith in God was the most important thing and gave me the strength to cope.
We acknowledge and applaud Maureen and all other Kenyans who have worked tirelessly in the frontline, providing much needed care at this time!!!
We know many Kenyans are affected by COVID-19. We wish all those who are undergoing treatment, speedy recovery, and offer encouragement and support to those who are caring for sick loved ones. We also remember all those who have lost their lives to COVID19. Our thoughts are with the families and friends at this difficult time.
Tujijenge Pamoja Network (TPN), is a cross country joint effort of over 200 diverse Kenya diaspora led organizations and groups in the UK. TPN seeks to form innovative partnership across the entire Kenyan Diaspora, that are supportive and empowering..
IT’S YOUR STORY
We will continue to share stories from other Kenyans in NHS and all other frontline areas in the fight against COVID-19. We must support our NHS and other frontline workers and heed to the government advise to STAY ALERT. Let us continue to encourage and support each other during these trying times. We are all in this together, and together we will overcome!!! If you have a story you would like us to include in our next newsletter, please share it.
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Compiled by Kenya Healthcare C19 Support Group
KHC-C19 Support Group
Dr Sarah Onyango
Tujijenge Pamoja Network
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