The desire to heal and save lives has prevailed since that day in April when the first person with a positive diagnostic test, María Nancy Ángel Rivas, aged 32, was admitted. Since then the team of physicians has deeply felt the imminent challenge from the always-present danger of infection.
A Cuban medical brigade in Venezuela, alongside Venezuelan colleagues and the security forces in each community, is moving forward with one of the most arduous tasks to preserve the lives of the population against the lethal strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
It is a multidisciplinary team dedicated to direct care of infected people.
They are young people taking on the challenge of direct exposure to suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients in the designated red zone of hospitals.
In dialogue with the press, young Comprehensive General Medicine (MGI) specialist, Roberto Alvarez – with five years of experience and a graduate in intensive therapy -, talked about the daily battle with the pandemic from the front lines in the Comprehensive Diagnostic Centre (CDI) Rafael Rangel, in the western state of Trujillo.
The team remains in the assistance area for two weeks and, following this period, it delivers replacements to another group and goes on to comply with the obligatory quarantine for a similar period, with a negative result on the preventative diagnostic test.
The MGI specialist, 28-year-old Arletty Sanchez, experienced the same feeling of uncertainty when crossing the threshold of the CDI red zone.
“From that date, our willingness to overcome any situation or fear was resolute, and when we met Maria Nancy we provided her with the best medical attention and psychological support to achieve her total recovery”, emphasised the doctor from the eastern Cuban province of Guantanamo.
For the young nursing graduate, Odelis Ferrer, attending to the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the Rafael Rangel area of Trujillo was a unique and challenging experience. “There is always some fear, but with optimism and bravery we overcame it for the wellbeing of the patient and for our own safety”, she said.
Fulfilling these strict biosafety rules and constant preparation, like the change in life and work routines adds other challenges to the young health workers as they take on the necessary isolation in the assistance centre during their two week shift and then their quarantine at home.
“As doctors we have overhauled some aspects, both professionally and personally, in recent months because a mistake could mean the difference between life and death”, Alvarez said.
Sanchez explains that work with Covid-19 positive patients is important as it contributes to professional growth: “Every case demonstrates a new lesson on the pathogen of singular characteristics, given the diverse range of symptoms, the high factors of mortality and contagion”.
As well as facing the viral illness, from the beginning the team of medics has faced the psychological load of the sick, who, on occasion, fall into severe depressive states or simply deny or ignore the severity of the situation.
Every working day in the red zone, the team from the CDI Rafael Rangel quells their fears and risks of infection in the face of suffering with rigorous respect for all the biosafety measures and their strong conviction to beat Covid-19.
Sincere gestures of gratitude from patients like Maria Nancy for care received over 21 days constitutes an additional stimulus for the health workers on the Caribbean island, located on the first line of suppression for the pandemic in Venezuela.
As well as the battle head on with people suspected and confirmed to have Covid-19, the medical forces of Cuba in the western state of Trujillo are involved in daily research work in 354 communities.
One of the fundamental objectives during the stage of facing the Covid-19 pandemic aims to search for the contacts of patients suspected and confirmed to have the illness as part of the outbreak control, explains the Cuban medical mission director in Trujilllo, Mariela Laza. In the last five months, they have carried out more than 20,000 rapid diagnostic tests.
For his part, Osvaldo de Jesus Figueroa, coordinator of the higher education mission in the territory, is contributing to the organisation and physical presence of the research results and to compliance with biosafety rules. (PL)