Covid-19 hit the shores of Ghana, in the middle of March when the country recorded its first two cases, the lives of Ghanaians have been changed drastically even as the cases keep increasing.
In the midst of this pandemic, a lot of discussions have been held, ranging from statistics: in terms of infection rate, death rate and recovery rate, and also how well the nation has managed the pandemic.
However, one area that has received very little attention is what the many health workers who are at the forefront of this fight go through behind the scenes to ensure everyone is safe.
It is for this reason that the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio programme on Joy FM, used last week’s edition to celebrate the health workers who have been at the forefront and have some of them share their experiences.
Fear of the health worker
Dr Titus Beyuo, a medical doctor and the Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, shared his story on how fear gripped him even before the country recorded its first case.
“I do have my own fears and I have been very scared about this virus even before Ghana recorded its first cases. I had a patient who had arrived in Ghana form USA for a surgery and when she arrived and we admitted her, it turned out that her temperature was very high and she was coming from a place with reported cases so at that point, she was a suspected case.
“So we had to record it according to our national protocol and her sample had to be taken, that night, I was very distressed and afraid,” he narrated.
Commenting on how the pandemic had affected his life and family, he said “my wife who is also a doctor is pregnant and what a year for doctor’s wife who is also a doctor and on the frontline to be also pregnant.”
“You can imagine that she herself becomes a more vulnerable person and at some point, she is prevented from coming to work so I then pose as an ever-present danger to her because every day I go to operate and come back
“Anytime I come back home, I have to go through a whole ritual of disinfection to minimise her risk and our children have named her ‘hand washing police’ and it goes beyond hand washing. I have to disinfect my shoes, I have to undress at the right place, take my shower and if I clear my throat while brushing my teeth, she goes like ‘hey have you brought it home’.
“That is the kind of life we are living now,” he stated.
Staying away from family
Dr Dzifa Dey, also narrated how she had to stay away from her husband and children because of the risk she posed to them in these uncertain times.
“When this pandemic started, we as a family had to come to a decision as to how we could reduce the risk to ourselves and at the same time be able to offer my best at work
“We decided that we stay separately so that the times that I am off and sure that I have not been exposed, I go home and see them. But when I am on duty or have any doubts, then I stay away until I am clear that I am not a risk to them,” she stated.
She said the pandemic had exposed risky her job was and sometimes made her family anxious and scared.
“It took a lot of talking and assurances to calm them down,” she noted.
Dr Dey said she had so far tested four times with the fourth one coming out positive.
She said that would, however, not deter her from performing her duties as a doctor because she had come to understand that, that was what she signed up for as a doctor.
Fear of contracting COVID-19
Dr Ama Kyerewaa Edwin, also shared her story on how she exposed herself to contracting COVID-19 on two different occasions.
She said the first was when she went in to talk to some COVID-19 patients with a torn PPE and when she had to console a COVID-19 patient who had just lost her husband to the virus.
“The last batch of people who were mandatorily quarantined who tested positive were brought to UGMC so we had about 20 of them and the following day, we were supposed to go and talk to them so a colleague and I went and just when we were about to enter, another colleague told me my PPE was torn. I wanted to go and change it but I decided to go with it because I thought we were not going to keep long there.
“But it took us almost two hours there and when we were out, I started asking myself what I had just done. Driving home, I got very scared so I stopped and I called my pastor to pray with me and after that, I became calm.
“There was another time I was helping a woman who had come in with a husband both positive and her husband died. She asked to see the body and I said okay so we made arrangement but the lady was crying uncontrollably and I wanted to give her some presence, but I was torn between helping her and my own protection,” she narrated.
She said she, however, went closer and talked to her.
“A few days later, my throat was itching and I had fever but I tested and it was negative but that was also a very difficult time for me,” she stated.