An ‘Unreal Experience’ – Insights from a Frontline COVID-19 Worker | News and events

An ‘Unreal Experience’ – Insights from a Frontline COVID-19 Worker | News and events

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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway and Barnet.

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An ‘Unreal Experience’ – Insights from a Frontline COVID-19 Worker

As part of an Imperial College online publication, one of our staff members, and Imperial College academic, Dr Rahma Elmahdi has shared her experience of working in a COVID-19 ward. Dr Elmahdi is an Honorary Research Associate at Imperial and Junior Doctor in General Medicine.

Dr Elmahdi's story

“I usually work full-time in epidemiology research and was aware of the impact the outbreak was having in the UK. Once lockdown started, and we were advised to work from home, I decided that the most useful contribution I could make as hospital pressures increased would be returning to clinical work. It wasn’t a hard decision but simply what I was trained to do.

"It’s been a really tough and unreal experience overall. There has been a great deal of solidarity among the staff on the frontline and I’ve been consistently inspired and proud of the dedication and energy of all my colleagues on the wards; everyone from the student nurses recruited in the last year of their degree to the consultants on Intensive Therapy Units (ITU) providing (re)training for us.

"Although the sheer pressures and confusion coupled with the suffering experienced by our patients has been hard to cope with, the public support and video calls with my friends and family have really been essential for staying positive and going back and doing the same again.

"Despite the challenges, there are some really lovely patient stories. My favourite story was seeing a married couple in their seventies, who were admitted one after the other onto our COVID-19 ward – despite the husband being very ill with the infection, he never failed to ask about how his wife was doing on the daily ward round. The team were delighted when he was well enough to visit his wife while they were both inpatients and when we were finally able to discharge them together after three weeks on the ward."

Dr Elmahdi's full story can be read here.