The World Health Assembly designated 2020 as the International Year of the Staff of Nursing. In this context, on April 7 the WHO dedicated World Health Day to this group of professionals, who constitute “the backbone of any health system”: the first battlefront against the coronavirus pandemic that is advancing worldwide.
“They are not only fundamental gears of care in sanatoriums and hospitals; they act as psychologists, partners, partners, coaches. I don’t know what would have become of me without them. They represent the best we have, those who are on the court, giving everything and receiving the hardest blows ”, summarizes Marisol San Román, patient 130, recovered from Covid-19.
“I call them Angels on earth. They took care of me with so much affection, that they made me feel that it was not just a number, ”adds Nelson Martínez, another ex-infected person – number 13 in the country – who came out ahead. When he went to get the last swab and saw those friends who accompanied him during his treatment -he confesses- couldn’t hold back the tears.
On this May 12, International Nursing Day, Clarion chatted with some of these heroes and heroines, equipped with both and masks, about their tasks, challenges, claims and the motor that mobilizes them: the vocation.
Nurse Carlos Alberto Ibáñez began working at the Argerich Hospital in the 1980s.
Carlos Alberto Ibáñez began working at the Argerich Hospital in the 1980s. Since then, he had to assist victims of the AMIA attack and the days of December 2001 (he moved to the epicenter of the fighting and was recorded in the photo of Clarín cap); young people who suffered the Cromañón massacre and wounded from the Tragedy of Once.
Today he is 65 years old and is part of the nurses who could retire, but they choose to be in the trench. The decision was not easy. He has a wife, children and grandchildren, he knows that his work is risky. “There are many in my situation that we said ‘We are going to be’Because we have a sense of belonging, we know we are useful and we are family. The family is not abandoned ”, he summarizes.
Carlos talks about his fears -you think it would be superb not to have them- and of the pains which involves losing a patient. But also of the little joys: the shared struggle with hospital workers -from the medical and nursing staff, to the stretcher-bearers and the cleaning staff-; the “thanks for being” that patients give her. It saddens him that he cannot show them the smile that he always hides behind the chinstrap. “Do you know how beautiful it is to hold someone’s hand? Accompanying is also caring ”.
When the pandemic passes, the first thing you want to do is see your grandchildren. Also, he wants to resume everyday mate With his companions: “Not to shake hands with them, but to break their ribs from the hugs that we are going to give each other,” she says.
Yamil Ponce, a doctor specialized in cardiovascular surgery at the Argerich, does not hide his admiration for “el Gallego” Carlos and the team that accompanies him. “The word ‘doctor’ comes from ‘Medicus’, what does it mean ‘The one who cares’. It is not the doctors who are on the front line. Nursing is the sector that receives the patient, admits him, takes the vital signs, has the first contact and then follows up. It is as important and is not valued as it should. Not to mention financially …He reflects. The salary issue emerges in different dialogues. Many of the professionals have more than one job to subsist.
The occupation is highly feminized. Almost the 80% of those who exercise it are women. Among them, Andrea Rey, who has worked for 19 years at the Agote Sanatorium, where the first confirmed coronavirus was received in the country in early March. Today, the institution focuses entirely on people with this diagnosis.
In these months, Andrea Rey, a nurse at the Agote sanatorium, had to accompany patients who had overcome the coronavirus, but also others who died.
To provide this essential service to the community, Andrea had to modify your family dynamics: Now, your teenage son spends much of the week at his father’s or grandfather’s house. He misses those “repairing hugs” and thinks about how a society as affectionate as Argentina must get used to new relational practices.
In these more than two months, he had the satisfaction of discharging different patients, but he also faced the pain of deaths from this disease. In particular, remember the departure of a couple of elderly people. “Although nursing accompanies all stages of life, from birth to death, the difference is that now families cannot be. So nurses try to chat a lot with patients. Although they recommend that the exposure time be short, you know that it is the only contact they have. One tries to stay longer, evacuate their doubts, keep them company ”.
Andrea Rey (in blue) nurse at the Agote sanatorium, along with two colleagues. The photo was taken in early March, before the country’s first case of coronavirus was detected.
Andrea underlines the support of the Sanitarium Infection Control Committee and solidarity among colleagues. He points out that his occupation requires soul, mind, body and spirit. “We always talk about it with our colleagues, we can’t imagine doing anything else.” However, he believes that this fundamental function has not yet received the necessary recognition. “We are always exposed. Still, our profession is not viewed as unhealthy. We also want to be recognized for who we are: healthcare professionals, not administrative personnel ”, he concludes, referring to the law passed in 2018.
Nursing graduate Nancy Astroza has no direct contact with the coronavirus. On the contrary, she has to be a barrier to the pandemic, since its duty is to protect the most exposed population: the elderly. She has been dedicated to this type of care for three decades and for four years she has been working in the “En Casa” nursing home, located on Nicolás Videla street, in Caballito.
Nursing graduate Nancy Astroza works in a nursing home in Caballito.
“More than a vocation, what we do is a solidarity serviceNancy warns. How did your work change after the arrival of coronavirus? “The relationship with our patients was deepening. From the institution we try to give them more containment. Because although the pandemic hurts us all, they are more vulnerable and distant from your loved ones. So we make video calls with families every other day and make videos, “he says.
People who live in the house are very long-lived: the oldest is 101 years old. “While many have cognitive decline, they are concerned about the situation. What weighs the most is the lack of a hug. For this, we are giving 200% every day, so that they feel protected. It’s a time when we realize the importance of affects, especially for the elderly. Since the quarantine began, they have had no contact with the outside. Before, we did not have visiting hours: relatives could come to snack, to have breakfast, now that is not possible, ”he laments, knowing that the measure is essential to protect residents.
While she once considered pursuing pediatrics, Nancy says she is passionate about her current job. “From a professional and personal point of view, I was born for this. It is something that I carry inside. I would choose it again, because I do it with love“
Raúl Ureta, chief of nursing at the Alexander Fleming Institute, works with cancer patients.
Raúl Ureta, Head of Nursing at the Alexander Fleming Institute also lives daily with people at risk: cancer patients. Unlike other centers, due to its characteristics, the Fleming never closed its doors. “Due to the emotional and physical impact of diagnoses, we always provide special care. Many patients are recurrent, they have known nurses for months or years. Some even spend the last days of their lives here. With the Covid, since families cannot enter, that human bond is strengthened. In addition, so that patients have the least possible exposure, we serve as waiters and laboratory technicians, which are practices for which we are trained. Something special is generated, ”he says.
The nurse, with more than 14 years in the establishment, explains that the pandemic became readjustment of infrastructure and protocols. New offices and areas, with separate entrances, were set up to keep patients separate according to their condition and needs. To this were added the rapid and constant tests, for internees, as well as for employees.
Raúl understands that these moments constitute a great opportunity to revalue nursing. “It is evident that our work is not just about hygiene and comfort, but about support and contribution to strategic decisions. The coordinated action of medical care and nursing care is unbeatable. This is the time to show the community everything we do every day. “
Given the news of discrimination against health personnel in buildings or public transport, do not get angry. Conversely. Consider that these attitudes stem from ignorance. “People have to understand that, if someone takes care of himself, it is us,” he says, before detailing the protocol he uses to enter both the sanitarium and his own home. Raúl’s wife is also a nurse. Months ago, none can hug their children, only 7 and 12 years old. But they don’t loosen.
“When you start studying you know it is to help and work with the community. I tried other careers, among them the History teaching staff, but I realized that this is what I like and from here I teach, ”adds Cristina Fiorentini, coordinator of the CEMIC Nursing department.
Cristina Fiorentini is coordinator of the CEMIC Nursing department.
The Center is currently carrying out a pioneering activity, convening people who have recovered from the disease, to voluntarily donate plasma and test its potential efficacy in critically ill patients. “It is a multidisciplinary work. It is up to me to train, provide the biosecurity elements to the nurses who are in the trench, get the quality supplies we need. It is worth the risk and effort, as long as we are prepared and with the necessary elements“, summarizes.
The anecdotes of the recovered patients function as a mirror of the dedication that the nurses express in their testimonies: that “Argentina that you don’t know until you are there”, would define Nelson Martínez. For him, who gained notoriety after keeping an online log of his illness, the jokes of their caretakers They were the key to maintaining a good state of mind during his days at the Muñiz Hospital: “Once, I told a nurse that he was from San Lorenzo… he was from Hurricane. He charged me, to the point of telling me to ask for delivery, because I wasn’t going to take dinner to a crow. At night, he threatened to keep his word, before bringing me the food, like every night. I still think about it and laugh. ”
The drawing that the patient Marisol San Román gave her nurse, Norma, after being discharged.
Marisol San Román rescues Norma’s support, the nurse with 25 years of experience psychologically prepared her for a diagnosis that he was not encouraged to accept, even before the results arrived. It was she who sat down and explained that her symptoms were typical of the coronavirus, but also who made her feel that everything would be fine. Before leaving for Agote, Marisol gave Norma a drawing and thanked her: “This is for the work you do. In your eyes you have humanity, love for people “.