Long hours, successive shifts: Doctors, nurses give glimpses from the coronavirus frontline

Doctors and nurses manning the frontline in the war against coronavirus are giving their all to take care of COVID-19 patients, despite the physical, mental, and emotional toll.

Long hours, successive shifts: Doctors, nurses give glimpses from the coronavirus frontline

Sunday April 05, 2020,

5 min Read

Coronavirus has brought the world to its knees. According to Worldometers, the number of confirmed cases is over 1,130,00 and deaths reported have gone up to 59,203. Governments, health officials, medical staff, social organisations, corporates, and samaritans are doing everything they can to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

The frontline workers - medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, medical staff, and admin - are bearing the brunt as they put in long hours and consecutive shifts to help COVID-19 patients. Hospitals are filling up every day, and medical staff are battling the disease day in and day out.

Many healthcare workers have volunteered to come out of retirement to help deal with the rise in the number of cases. In India, actor Shikha Malhotra volunteered to be a nurse at a Mumbai hospital to help COVID-19 patients. She has a BSc (Hons) nursing degree, and urged others also to help in the fight. 

"Always there to serve the country as a #Nurse as a #entertainer, wherever, however I can. Need your blessings. Please be at home, be safe and support the government, (sic)" Shikha Malhotra wrote a post on Instagram.

The US is the most affected country in the world with over 7,000 deaths and 2.7 lakh cases. On Friday, it reported more than 30,000 cases in 24 hours. The healthcare system is grappling with the hike in coronavirus cases. Chafed and bruised faces of nurses and doctors working long hours in protective gear symbolise the battle scars in this war against the pandemic. Their images have been widely circulated over the internet.

Wearing their battle scars with pride

One such image was of Italian nurse Alessia Bonari, who posted on Instagram about the physical, mental and emotional toll of the pandemic, and the increased risk medical workers were facing.  

“I’m physically tired because protective devices hurt, scrubs are sweating, and once dressed I can’t go to the bathroom or drink for six hours. I am psychologically tired, as are all my colleagues who have been in the same condition for weeks, but this won’t stop us from doing our job like we have always done. I will continue to care and take care of my patients because I am proud and love my job,” she wrote in the post. 

A British doctor, Natalie Silvey, took to Twitter to post her work selfie, and urged everyone to practice social distancing and self-isolation to contain the spread of the virus. 

In another tweet, she gaave details of scared health workers helping each other in the crisis.

“There is something very comforting in someone else saying “me too”. This will pass but it is normal to feel like this #covid19,” she wrote.

Another nurse, Letha Love, from Atlanta, Georgia, told CNN that,

“I’m very scared. You can call it brave if you want to. It's brave. But I'm scared. I'm very scared. But I'm here.”

She was one of the 29 healthcare workers flying from Atlanta to New York City to help fight the pandemic. The picture of the healthcare workers went viral after Southwest Airlines shared it on Instagram.

Letha’s friend, Trina Southerland, was also on the plane. “This is the highlight of my nursing career,” she told her 16-year-old daughter, who also aspires to be a nurse, according to CNN. 

"COVID-19 is deadly. What I can say is, there is no age limit. There is no colour. There is no size...There is no status, no class, no nothing. It will get anyone. We need support. Because it could be us laying in that bed, being taken care of by one of our fellow nurses,” she told a reporter. 

Healthcare workers are at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

Nurse Aphrika Reine, with her colleague Ashley Bussey, took to social media in a rather eye-catching way to talk of the increased risk and the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). They do the #fliptheswitchchallenge to raise awareness. 

In another viral video, 15 ICU nurses from Massachusetts General Hospital talked about taking care of serious coronavirus patients. 


“We are scared that the numbers of healthcare workers infected will continue to rise. We are scared and heartbroken for the families of our patients and wives, partners and children that cannot be with their loved ones as they fight for their lives. But our patients are not alone. We are all here.

"We are strong and united and will not give up in the fight to save lives. To all the health care workers across the country, we thank you, we are proud to be on your team,” says nurse Sarahjane Hall in the video. 

Treating and comforting patients

A nurse from Las Vegas took to an Instagram account called ‘Diaries from the Field’, a series bringing stories from the healthcare community during this crisis. With family and friends not allowed to visit hospitals to see COVID-19 patients, she - and many others like her - are taking up the role of comforting patients as they are all alone. 

“Seeing my patients watch the news constantly, discussing the coronavirus and how many are dying around the world and knowing that they have it. They’re asking me if they’re going to die.


"They’re all alone... and I’m one of few people they see. I try to talk to them & comfort them as much as I can without risking my health so they feel less alone,” she wrote. 

Nurses and doctors are also using platforms like TikTok to help curb misinformation and provide verified information. Dr Leslie, a resident doctor, has a verified account and keeps giving updates with coronavirus-related information, and busts myths

Another nurse shares a video on how to remove face masks and preserve them for another day.

In this war against the pandemic, healthcare workers are fighting battles every day, risking their lives and those of their loved ones, to help the world beat COVID-19. 


(Edited by Kanishk Singh)