As I’m writing these few lines, our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is filled to capacity with the very sick COVID-19 patients who are battling for their lives. Fighting the battle with them, are health workers who are tired, overworked and mentally spent. These are my colleagues and I’m proud of how they’ve stretched themselves to the limit to ensure we continue the fight for our patients that need us so dearly. I do not know how much more we can take, but somehow every day, we keep pushing ourselves beyond our limits to accommodate the increasing numbers of sick patients coming our way. What is even more heart wrenching, is more of my fellow “soldiers” are becoming victims to the virus and our “army” is slowly starting to weaken. I’m now beginning to lose count of the number of my colleagues who are home sick with COVID-19. What is even more hurtful is, we’ve now lost a colleague in the fight.
REMEMBERING A FALLEN HERO
Dr. Seepersaud Chatterdeo was a doctor whose resolve didn’t waver during the outbreak. Realizing that the lives of so many children depended on him throughout the country, he did not relent but continued to work tirelessly during this outbreak to keep his “kids” healthy. He went down like a true champion; fighting until he took his last breath. What Dr. Chatterdeo did for the medical fraternity and for the many children in this country, can never be measured. The weight of his efforts will be forever be etched in the hearts and academic minds of so many and we will all continue to benefit from his contributions for decades to come.
WHO’S LOOKING AFTER OUR LIVES?
Dr. Chatterdeo sacrificed his life to save many others. Unfortunately, he has left a wife and two children who will have to make daily sacrifices to face life without a husband and a father. That is the grim reality that so many health workers are faced with during this outbreak. I battle daily with my guilt knowing of the risks that I’m taking with my wife and two young children. By just doing my job, I’m putting their lives at risk and I worry of the prospects of them having to face life without me. All of my colleagues have similar personal challenges but yet they put it all on the line to give our people a chance to live.
THE REALITY OF WHAT WE FACE DAILY
It’s not easy to have to wake up daily knowing that you’re going to fight a war in a system that was never designed for such a war. Health workers throughout Guyana, stretch their safety limits beyond what is tolerable just to make sure that the sick continue to receive care. Our patients and relatives are not always accommodating; the constant abuse and accusations have increased. We are in a pandemic and things cannot be as per normal. Health workers do not come out daily to risk their lives to make the lives of others more difficult. The threats and abuse will only dampen our spirit. While all of us are not perfect, the situation demands that we avoid accustomed norms to ensure the safety and protection of all.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP US?
There seems to be an obvious correlation between the surge in cases and the recent irresponsible behaviours of our people. You can prevent health workers from getting sick and even dying by being responsible with your action and avoid getting sick. Gathering in crowds, being out when you know you are infected, not wearing masks and ignoring restriction guidelines are types of irresponsible behaviour that has brought us to this point. The health workers, the sick and those who may become sick, need you to be their advocates. Be a responsible Guyanese, take action and encourage others to do the same so that we can unite for a common cause; working together to save the lives of our people.
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