SILA ang first line of defense para labanan ang gera kontra COVID-19.
Itinataya nila ang sariling kaligtasan para iligtas ang iba.
Puyat, pagod at pagkakalayo sa pamilya ang tinitiis ng mga doktor, nars at iba pang health workers. Ngunit kailangan nilang maging matatag sa laban na ito na wala pang katiyakan kung kailan magwawakas.
Kulang ang mga salita para sila’y pasalamatan.
Kinalap ng Philippine Daily Inquirer ang kuwento ng dedikasyon ng mga medical professional na patuloy na tumatalima sa tawag ng tungkulin at sa kanilang sinumpaang pangako– ang magsilbi sa bayan.
Tuloy ang laban
“Now, we’re much more appreciative of the value of our profession, and why we’re being trained this way: kasi dapat kapag mag-isa ka na lang, kapag kaunti na lang kayo, kaya mo, matatag ka, di ka matitinag,” sabi ni Marianne Michelle dela Rosa, postgraduate medical intern ng Rizal Medical Center.
Paano na lang kung siya ang mahawa at maipasa ito sa diabetic niyang ina at hypertensive at may prostrate cancer na ama? Para kay dela Rosa, tuloy ang laban kahit na inutos ng ospital ang pullout ng mga intern doon.
“Such is the life of a doctor—you must love it even when there are a million reasons to give up, show courage even when you’re scared, and show strength even when you are weakened by a health care system that greatly limits your ability to serve your patients and your country,” aniya.
Pamilya, kapwa frontliners inspirasyon
Halos madurog ang puso ni Dr. Ina Ortiz, MD, 2nd year internal medicine resident ng University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, nang bisitahin ng pamilya matapos ang ilang linggong pagkakawalay sa kanila.
Nais man niyang yakapin sila ay hindi pwede dahil kailangan nilang dumistansya mula sa isa’t isa. Pinilit lang ng kanyang nakababatang kapatid na hawakan ang kanyang kamay.
Ayon kay Ortiz na nangangamba rin para sa kalusugan ng amang doktor sa ibang ospital, sinusubok siya ng pandemic “physically, mentally and emotionally.”
“Your endurance, strength of character, knowledge, skill and dedication are constantly tested every day. But it can also be equally exhausting for families and loved ones, since most of them are faced with feelings of helplessness and constant worry,” aniya.
“What keeps us going is seeing how our fellow front-liners work bravely and passionately. The overwhelming support from the community through donations and prayers empowers us even more. We are reminded every day that we are fighting the good fight and for a cause much bigger than ourselves.”
“When I can again be in the same room with them?”
Kadikit na ng tungkulin ang pangamba, sabi ni Dr. Raf Gavino, MD, Internal Medicine doctor ng East Avenue Medical Center. Pangamba kung anong gagawin sa mga bagong lab results at ang pagresolba sa bagong iniindang sakit ng mga pasyente.
” That is the life. It’s the skipped meals, the gray hair, the dark circles under the eyes. But it’s not that simple anymore,” aniya.
Bumaba na ang bilang ng mga pasyente dahil hindi na sila tumatanggap ng outpatients para mabawasan ang exposure sa virus. Ngunit hindi lang ito tungkol sa numero, tungkol ito sa tanong kung kailan matatapos ang krisis na ito.
“These days, I worry about my mother’s tears as she opens the gate to see me off to work. I worry about the way my father coughs, as I hear him from another room. When I’m not with them I worry that they might keep such symptoms a secret, if only to minimize my stress. As I come home from work, my concern is that I might bring an infection they wouldn’t be able to handle. And just like you, I worry about how long this crisis will last. Until then, from beneath the mask and gloves, I will worry about my parents, while dreaming of the day when I can again be in the same room with them.”
Masakit para sa kagaya niyang “doctor to the barrios” na ipabatid sa mga rural communities na hindi pa sila maaaring i-test at ang tanging magagawa ay ang manatili sa bahay para mag-self quarantine.
“We will be monitoring you,” sabi ni Dr. Kea Koko D. Bravo, MD, isang rural health physician sa Villasis, Pangasinan. “They do not deserve this kind of medical treatment. At all times, health is a right.”
Call of duty
Sa una ay tila ba nabunutan ng tinik sa lalamunan si John Derek C. Clutario, pangulo ng Department of Health-Philippine Centers for Specialized Health Care Interns’ Council, matapos ideklara ng Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Inc. ang pullout ng postgraduate medical interns sa lahat ng ospital sa bansa.
Naiisip na niya ang makapagpahinga, makatulog at makapagreview para sa nalalapit na licensure examination sa September. Subalit may hindi maipaliwanag na pakiramdam ang gumugulo sa kanya, ang pakiramdam na dapat siyang mahawa ng katapangan.
“I remember a saying that goes, “I will never be able to forgive myself living with the knowledge that I could have done something but did not do anything,” sabi ni Clutario.
“So together with 30 brave souls, we requested to be back in the hospital and help fight this pandemic. Some did not tell their parents because they knew the answer would be no. I know we have a long way to go but I’ve seen the hearts of the doctors, hospital staff, and even the guards who come in day in and day out. Their spirit is contagious. More contagious than that COVID-19 will ever be,” dagdag niya.
Mabisang aksyon naman ang sigaw ni Dr. Thad Hinunangan, MD, pathology resident physician ng Philippine General Hospital.
“When the PGH was designated as a referral hospital for COVID-19 cases, we immediately thought of the support we would be needing from the Department of Health and from the government: personal protective equipment like gowns, masks and face shields, especially for medical technologists handling blood specimens; assured accommodations for the staff on one week straight duty or two weeks’ quarantine scheme; disinfectants, sanitizers, manpower, and hazard pay and other benefits for job order employees who are exposed to the same risks as the permanent staff. We are counting on concrete actions. Help us do our jobs!”
Maghahatid at magsusundo
Para maibsan man lang ang kanilang pagod dahil sa prolonged duty hours, hiling ni Dr. KC Macose, MD, radiology resident ng Philippine Heart Center na sana’y hindi na sila mahirapan sa biyahe patungo sa mga pagamutan. Ito ay sa pamamagitan ng accessible transportation service na maghahatid at magsusundo sa kanila.
“I am not afraid to go to work. I am afraid that I can’t report to work. Give us options. Commuting was a real struggle [last Wednesday], and I had to walk and take a not-so-legal motorcycle ride.”
“We are who we are because of our profession”
Aminado si Dr. John Daniel Ramos, MD, former resident physician ng PGH na nakatatakot ang nangyayari ngayon dahil maging silang nasa linya ng medisina ay maaaring tamaan ng sakit.
“But though we are scared, we still keep going. Because we took an oath. We are who we are because of our profession. We are not playing heroes, and we actually have a choice not to participate. We are not immune to the disease. But we choose to work because people need our help,” aniya.