Jul 05, 2020 News Comments Off on Our front line worker of the week is… Dr. Coleen Adams
“The best thing about being a doctor is that you get the chance to help save lives and that’s an accomplishment. You get to make someone happy, knowing that their life has been extended, and you get to make a family happy.”
By Romario Blair
In our minds, we can try to imagine a mighty and terrifying enemy, charging straight for our homeland. The enemy’s reputation is quite notorious, as it has previously crushed countless other countries. As the enemy nears our borders, our very best and most resilient assets are sent to take up strategic positions on our frontline to keep the threat at bay.
Despite ardent efforts, the enemy infiltrates. Efforts are doubled up, causing the resulting impact to be bare minimum.
Filled with a measure of comfort, the nation breathes a sigh of relief — we finally stand a chance against this dreaded enemy.
The enemy to which I allude is that of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been likened to a dreaded enemy, one of which health workers have never seen but they have proven to be innovative in order to effectively retaliate. But it has been a tall task. Powerful countries have crumbled, as the virus crushed both economic and health systems simultaneously.
Here in Guyana, we now look mainly to the men and women in our public health care system, who battle on the frontline day and night, in an attempt to push the virus out from within our borders.
This week, we are proud to feature one of these resilient health workers – Dr. Coleen Adams. Dr. Adams, though stationed at the Suddie Public Hospital in Region Two, is a frontline health worker who has been handling high-risk pregnant mothers, from Moruca, Region One [Barima/Waini]. In recent weeks, Moruca has become a COVID-19 hotspot.
Dr. Adams has been attached to the Suddie Hospital on the Essequibo Coast, for the past three years and is presently head of Obstetrics and Gynecology [OBGYN]. In simpler terms, she cares for women during, and just after their pregnancies.
The 28-year-old explained during a recent interview that high-risk pregnant women from the Moruca District are often transferred to the Suddie Public Hospital on the Essequibo Coast. There they stand a better chance of having a safe delivery. Since Moruca is presently considered the
country’s COVID-19 epicenter, Dr. Adams finds that her role on the frontline is in high demand. As challenging as it may seem, she admitted that nothing can replace the joy that comes with trying to save a life. She went on to disclose, “The best thing about being a doctor is that you get the chance to help save lives and that’s an accomplishment. You get to make someone happy, knowing that their life has been extended, and you get to make a family happy.”
Dr. Adams considers the role she plays a remarkable feat given the fact that she is helping to care for persons who hail from the Barima/Waini district from which she comes.
She originated from humble beginnings in a section of the district called Mabaruma.
From a tender age, she recalled, dreaming of pursuing a career in the field of medicine. Growing up in the remote community was not as easy then as it is today. But, according to her, the community’s lack of highly trained doctors, helped to play a key role in bolstering her ambition to become a doctor.
“Our health care system is much improved today as compared to when I was a child…Today, there are many more doctors, midwives, equipment and so forth… But as a child, I always saw the need for more health care professionals within the country and I think that was the main reason why I got into the health profession,” said Dr. Adams.
Sharing some details about her family, Dr. Adams spoke of being the eldest of three children born to Kim and Collin Adams. Her parents, she said, prioritized the education of their children. “My mom was a housewife but she always use to say that I have to take in my education so that I can have the things she didn’t,” said Dr. Adams. For a hinterland student, studying had multiple challenges, especially since there was a constant lack of studying materials. In explaining the challenges she faced, she recalled, “There was little electricity, so studying at nights was an issue. In Mabaruma then, there were no book stores, so you couldn’t easily get the books the school library didn’t have. Relatives had to send the books you needed via airplane from Georgetown.”
Despite the challenges, Dr. Adams was able to ace the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and gained a scholarship to attend the Central High School in Georgetown. Her grades were good enough to allow her to later transfer to Queen’s College. It was there she developed a passion for Mathematics and Human and Social Biology, which propelled her into the field of medicine.
Reflecting on her educational journey, Dr. Adams said that the transition from the hinterland to the “big city”, was “absolutely abrupt”, and came with challenges of its own.
“Initially, it was challenging because I was just eleven years old at that time. I missed my parents, my region, and my siblings… but on the bright side, my relatives were loving to me. They took me in as one of their own, and they had access to all of the technology and study aids so I managed to excel at school,” Dr. Adams recalled. She graduated high school with 13 CSEC subjects, and applied for a Cuban scholarship in 2010. In the year 2017, she graduated with a golden award, having achieved an outstanding grade point average.
She officially commenced her career in the medical field at the Suddie Public Hospital in 2017, after completing a one-year internship at the New Amsterdam Hospital in 2016.
Like so many other doctors around the world, Dr. Adams had least expected to deal with a disease that would circle the globe within just a few months. She explained, “Before Corona, my main focus was improving women’s health and empowering women through education and access to better health care. I have a special place for empowering women; as a matter of fact, it’s one of my main reasons for being in OBGYN,” she quipped.
But being on the frontline did take some getting used to, Dr. Adams admitted. “Initially, when I heard about coronavirus, like every other human, I had my fear because the disease is highly contagious and spreading so rapidly. I was scared for my family and friends and colleagues,” she said.
It was however with the help of her colleagues at the Suddie Hospital that her fear of the disease eventually dwindled. “I got the courage to deal with it because I realized it is here. And instead of being afraid, I thought to myself we need to be prepared to prevent the virus from spreading to our community… We knew we had to put measures in place… And I’m happy to say that we are managing it well,” she said with pride.
Dr. Adams explained that in an effort to control and even prevent the spread of the virus, quite a number of measures had to be implemented by the Region’s public health system. Since Region Two sits between two infected Administrative Regions (One and Seven), screening measures were implemented at all ports of entries on the Essequibo Coast.
When it comes to handling patients from the Moruca Region, Dr. Adams said, the safety of staff, and even that of the entire hospital, is of paramount importance. “As soon as we bring in pregnant mothers from Moruca, they are placed in Isolation. We then take samples from them and we send it for testing in Georgetown. Based on the results that return, we’d know whether to place the pregnant mother in quarantine.” An isolation unit has also been set up in the Region and, according to Dr. Adams, it contains “all of the necessities that we need for deliveries.”
EDIFYING THE REGION
When the COVID-19 epidemic was first confirmed in Guyana more than three months ago, many were horrified and even went into ‘panic shopping’. Dr. Adams opined that many had little knowledge on COVID-19, and based their understanding on the reports that were being featured in the international press. Overtime, she said, edifying the local population proved to be quite beneficial.
Dr. Adams explained that “One of the advantages now is that persons are more educated than ever before. I myself was even nervous about coronavirus because three months ago, we hadn’t much information. When I heard about coronavirus, I was nervous, because we didn’t have much information then.” She went on to say, “now our population is even more aware of how the virus is being transmitted, they know how they can protect themselves against it, and even more importantly, they know being infected doesn’t necessarily mean death.”
Anyone who’s a doctor will most likely agree that a patient’s recovery depends not only on medication, but emotional and physiological support plays a significant role in treating them. Dr. Adams said that as a doctor, it is important that she views a person seeking care not merely as a patient, but “as a fellow human being whose life depends on you giving them your best.”
“We need to take into consideration the physiological and emotional wellbeing… COVID-19 isn’t the end of the line because infection is rated on a scale of mild, medium and severe. A patient may be positive but yet exhibits no symptoms while others may exhibit mild symptoms. When it comes to dealing with patients with severe cases, it’s even more important that emotional and physiological support be given to that person,” said Dr. Adams.
There are no confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus in the Pomeroon/Supenaam region where she works. Quite fittingly, this is owed to the heroes like Dr. Adams, whose selfless efforts, has significantly suppressed the spread of the invisible enemy, and will, eventually reduce its threat to the nation.
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