Turkish doctors fight virus under harsh conditions
Toygun Atilla - ISTANBUL
Doctors who are fighting against the deadly coronavirus pandemic at the forefront of the battle are working under exhausting conditions to save the lives of many.
According to the latest official data, the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 34,000, while the death toll has risen to above 700 across the country, with Istanbul accounting for around 60 percent of all cases.
“In fact, we have shortened the length of our shifts when we realized that the longer they work in other countries the higher the risk for medical staff to get infected,” said a resident doctor, who is working in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Istanbul’s Cerrahpaşa Medical School Hospital.
“That is why we are working up to 12 to 16 hours on a shift and then take a rest for another 24 to 36 hours.”
The ICU doctor also depicts the challenging environment and difficulties they face every day when health workers arrive at their hospitals.
“First thing we put on our protective clothes and other special equipment before we take over the shift from our colleagues. Then we visit the patients to see how they are doing, what their condition is. That’s how a day starts for us,” the doctor said.
Doctors are spending most of the day in the intensive care unit. The protective gears pretty much restrict their movement and are not suitable outfits to handle during daily routines in life.
“Like one hour after taking over the shift, headaches strike back all of us. But you cannot leave the ICU and just go out every time you feel like it. Because when you do that you have to change all your clothes once again. And this is not simply possible. We go out to catch some fresh three or four hours after the shift starts.”
The doctor said this is a virus which has undone everything.
“Normal treatments for breathing problems do not work on this virus. The course of the illness can show sudden and sharp changes during the day. That is why we constantly observe the patients.”
The hospital’s largest surgery room has been turned into an intensive care unit to handle more patients.
For the time being, under current conditions, they can take care of the patients, the doctor said, but added that people need to stay at home to prevent Turkey from becoming like Italy or Spain.
“We have taken out the ventilators, which stayed idle in the hospital’s depot. But they may not be enough in the future. More ventilators should be produced. The fight against the virus should be orchestrated from a single center.
Private hospitals are not yet fully integrated into the system. Those hospitals have quite a bit of ventilators and beds in their ICUs. We need to be able to use those private hospitals in an efficient way,” the doctor added.