When a patient’s vital signs are far from normal, caregiver’s best may not be enough —Dr. Osinusi-Adekanmbi
From the moment they are admitted into the Intensive Care Unit, most patients with severe COVID-19 quickly develop emotional bond with their caregivers, Consultant Infectious Disease Specialist, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Dr. Kemi Osinusi-Adekanmbi, says.
She told our correspondent that there are vital signs to tell whether or not a critically-ill patient will survive the contagion.
Dr. Osinusi-Adekanmbi however confessed that the death of any patient in the isolation centre tends to leave emotional impact on some health workers.
“Hippocratic Oath or not, a serious physician can never take the loss of patients in intensive care as part of the job,” the specialist enthused.
“When human life is lost, no matter how many times you have seen it happen, it hurts. It hurts because you know there is a family they left behind who won’t see them again.
“It also hurts because it puts a lot of pressure on frontline workers because your hope is to see every single patient get well every time they come in. Therefore, we feel discourage and struggle to put the disappointment behind us.
“We feel the loss because, over time, we form a bond with the family members who check on them from time to time. And so, we can feel their pain, knowing that the patient is gone forever.
“I won’t say I have gone into depression or emotional trauma over it, but I must say it is always very discouraging,” the physician said.
Coping with patients on ventilators
The doctor also revealed that caregivers often have hard time taking their eyes off some chronic patients on ventilators or drug regime.
“There is something we call vital signs. It includes blood pressure, the rate of feeding and heartbeat.
“Those kinds of things give an idea of how sick a patient is, especially when the value you get is very far from the normal range. At that point, you know you are doing all your best but it may not be enough,” she said.
Osinusi-Adekanmbi, who is also a lecturer at the Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan, disclosed that patients brought into isolation centre understand the seriousness of their cases.
“Many patients know the reason they are admitted into the ICU and show some level of understanding, while some others are not okay with it.
“For instance, some patients walk in by themselves. But these same people can wake up in the morning and not remember they were brought in the day before.
“They just wake up and find themselves in strange beds, wondering where everybody has gone. These were people who have been used to seeing people, especially family and loved ones, around them,” she said.
Unusual demands from patients
Reacting to some unusual demands from severely ill COVID-19 patients in their care, Osinusi-Adekanmbi said, “We must understand that ICUs are for the sickest patients who are struggling with severe cases, especially respiratory challenges.”
Sober reflection in ICU
The physician said that patients become more sober when they start nursing the fear that they might not recover from the disease.
“It gives them time to reflect more about the vicissitudes of life and death itself. Sometimes, they open up on the things they reflect about.
“I have also come to realise that many develop a sense of appreciation for health workers. We have had instances where some of them returned to donate items, especially things that would make us to do our work easier, like PPEs and health equipment,” she said.
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