Special COVID-19 patient stays to help doctors after recovering

August 12, 2021 - 09:02

Hà Ngọc Trường is a special patient at the Củ Chi COVID-19 Treatment Hospital in HCM City. 


Hà Ngọc Trường washes a COVID-19 patient's hair. — Photo qdnd.com.vn

HÀ NỘI — Hà Ngọc Trường is a special patient at the Củ Chi COVID-19 Treatment Hospital in HCM City. 

Almost two months ago, Trường and four members of his family tested positive for SARS-nCoV-2. He himself had to be put on a ventilator due to respiratory failure.

Trường, 28, was treated at Củ Chi COVID-19 Treatment Field Hospital for a month before his condition improved and he was able to be taken off the ventilator.

“That was also the time when I witnessed the hardship of doctors and nurses working at the hospital. They always had to wear this protective suit that is so uncomfortable, they dare not even drink water,” Trường said.

When he could get up and walk again, Trường thought he had to do something to help them as a way to express his gratitude. He started a special task: a patient-turned-nurse for the Infection Faculty 1 of the hospital, as people in the faculty often joked.

“I thought of doing something like cleaning the patients’ rooms and caring for basic needs of F0s with more critical conditions to ease the burden of doctors and nurses who saved my life,” Trường said.

"In the faculty I was being treated, many patients are elderly. Some of them have both COVID-19 and another disease, some are even paralysed. They don't have family and can't take care of themselves, so they depend on health staff," Trường said. 

He told the health staff his wish to help – and was welcomed.

Trường would help with giving meals to patients in the faculty. He would help clean those who couldn’t get up. He washed their hair when needed. Then he moved on to more technical work – checking IV bottles and oxygen cylinders.

Tô Lê Hưng, a doctor at the hospital, said Trường's help was valuable.

“We trained him on safety regulations, how to change an oxygen cylinder, and basic stuff like that. In fact, there are always 130-140 patients here who need oxygen machines, one doctor has to take care of many patients, so Trường’s support was very much appreciated,” Hưng said.

Huỳnh Thị Thuỷ, a patient at the hospital, said Trường helped her a lot in the past month.

“He comes every day to ask about my daily needs like food or personal hygiene. Every ten days, he helps me wash my hair,” Thuỷ said.

“I think of him as my son, and so many people here do as well. He helps everyone, and he wouldn’t refuse any requests,” she said.

While Trường’s mom, who is also a COVID patient, is still on ECMO at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, he still finds the energy to continue supporting doctors and nurses, saying he would remain at the hospital until the pandemic is over.

“I used to wash my mum’s hair, too. Now that she’s not here, I can’t do it for her, so I think I am taking care of aunts and uncles here just like I’m taking care of my mum. I used to be a patient, so I understand the feeling of being unable to do personal hygiene stuff,” Trường said.

Immunity after natural infection

Doctor Lâm Hoàng Cát Tiên from Nguyễn Tri Phương Hospital in HCM City cited a US study in June 2021 showing that when a COVID-19 patient recovers, the patient has antibodies, meaning they can’t catch the virus for a certain period of time.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Clinical Center under the Department of Transfusion Medicine, Bethesda, showed that people who have recovered from COVID-19 might develop naturally acquired immunity that persists for up to 11 months after infection.

The study, which aims at better understanding COVID-19 responses in individuals who obtained the virus in the community, was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“It’s of great help to have F0s who have recovered and stay to support us to care for patients with mild symptoms so we could focus on treating those in more critical conditions,” said Trần Chánh Xuân, director of Củ Chi COVID-19 Treatment Hospital.

At Thủ Đức City COVID-19 Treatment Hospital, some recovered patients also volunteered to support doctors and nurses.

“Those who have recovered know very well the procedures of taking care of a COVID-19 patient, so we don’t have to train them too much,” said doctor Nguyễn Minh Quân, director of Thủ Đức City COVID-19 Treatment Hospital.

The hospital has actually set up a model according to which recovered patients support doctors in following up with other cases.

“With so many patients in the hospital, we can’t stay by patients’ sides all the time, so these people are really giving us a hand so we could detect any unusual developments in patients and address the issues quickly,” Quân said. — VNS