Real heroes on the frontline amid the battle against COVID-19

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Doctors of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases treat severe COVID-19 patients. Photo vietnamplus.vn

HÀ NỘI – COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on people’s lives for more than two years and with cases rising, pressure on health workers continues to pile up.

Doctor Nguyễn Vĩnh Nghi in Ninh Thuận Province is well aware he must adapt to pressure and cope with burnout when working through the pandemic.

When HCM City was at its peak of COVID cases, he led a team of 20 medical officers of Ninh Thuận Province to the epicentre of COVID-19 to support their colleagues, who were struggling with the spike and the overloaded healthcare system.

“We were under huge pressure but all managed to be mentally strong to conduct our work and save lives,” he said.

“I remember us working day in and night out against all odds. We have almost no time for eating or resting. We worked restlessly so didn’t feel the heat when wearing protective clothing. The hardship of all doctors in HCMC and other localities coming for help has been paid off as the city has returned to the normal and the pandemic been controlled.”

Nghi led a team of 20 medical officers of Ninh Thuận Province to HCM City to support their colleagues. Photo dangcongsan.vn

Nghi is among two doctors awarded prize for the national excellent civil servants of 2021. The award was given to individuals who made excellent contributions in administration reform or those with excellent ideas and initiatives in their field to serve the public.

The 36-year-old has been also active in scientific research activities.

He graduated with a major in Laboratory Science from Pasteur Institute Nha Trang in the central coastal province of Khánh Hòa and then obtained a master’s degree in Biotechnology.

He led a scientific research project on the rate and antibiotic resistance of some bacteria causing surgical infections at Ninh Thuận Hospital in 2019.

The research was published in the Journal of Practical Medicine of the Ministry of Health and its result has been reported at the 2019 Annual Infection Control Conference organised by the HCMC Infection Control Society.

In 2020 and 2021 he conducted a survey on antibiotic resistance of gram-negative bacteria in hospitals in Ninh Thuận Province and participated in the Initiative to improve the blood collection process of family members at Ninh Thuận General Hospital, which has been accepted and applied at the Department of Hematology – Blood Transfusion.

He has received a number of prizes from the contests and the Provincial People’s Committee for achievements and contributions in his field.

Nghi has also worked with his colleagues to call for blood donations and organised free healthcare and treatment for 12 remote, disadvantaged communes.

Like Nghi, doctor Phạm Minh An who is working for the Department of Intensive Care and Anti-Poison of Đà Nẵng Hospital has joined other doctors in treating COVID-19 patients in a critical condition and also offered online diagnose for severe COVID-19 cases.

He said: “Medical workers have a very crucial role during the pandemic. Many pregnant doctors also joined the fight to protect patients. I did not think twice.”

In July 2021 he was the only resuscitation doctor directly leading a team of doctors and nurses treating more than 50 severe COVID-19 patients at the hospital.

Doctor An (first, right) was named among the national excellent civil servants of 2021. Photo dangcongsan.vn

“At that time, it was very hot and we wore protective suits five to six times a day, sometimes for more than five hours,” the doctor recalled.

One of the most unforgettable patients was a 53-year-old with a severe COVID-19 infection. The patient suffered septic shock and high blood pressure.

At that time, the patient was at death’s door but Dr An asked for his leader’s permission to use extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for the patient.

“We place the patient under ECMO for 44 days in a row. Eventually the patient recovered and was discharged from hospital,” he said.

Despite being busy with the pandemic prevention and control work, An still found time for new solutions and initiatives in his field.

He has authored and co-authored research papers on continuous dialysis using oxiris filters in the treatment of septic shock patients at the Intensive Care Unit – Anti-Poisoning Department of Đà Nẵng Hospital in 2019, the role of PiCCO in patients with acute respiratory distress.

The latter was published in the proceedings of an ICU conference in Thailand in 2020.

Doctors Nghi and An are among thousands in Việt Nam and millions all over the world who have been exposed to physical and mental exhaustion in the global health crisis.

They range from difficult decisions, the pain of losing patients to the huge risk of infection and pressure from the public.

Despite all the challenges, these real heroes on the frontlines put their lives at risk to save others’ lives. VNS

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