Last Updated on 2nd April 2020
Osama Hamid, Junior Doctor, London
My name is Osama Hamid and I am a junior doctor working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a busy North West London district general hospital during the Covid-19 crisis.
I normally work in the hospital’s surgery department. However, with the emergence of coronavirus, hospitals have taken drastic steps. One has been to cancel all elective operations and clinics, which has meant that the workload has also dropped. Therefore, I have been re-deployed to ICU.
This is the first time I have worked in this environment and the first few days were daunting to say the least. It was only through prayers and listening to the guidance from Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa that I have been able to stay calm and collected during this difficult time.
In ICU, we see the sickest patients. The ones whose lungs have been affected so much by the virus that they are not able provide adequate oxygenation to their organs without mechanical support, in the form of ventilators. Whereas previously, there would be all sorts of patients – from those with kidney failure to those post major surgery – now, ICU is solely full of Covid-19 positive patients.
A day in the life
A typical day starts at 8am in the morning handover. The team congregate and receive an update on what happened during the night. Since this is such a novel virus, new guidance comes out almost daily, so if there is anything relevant, this is also disseminated to the team.
After handover, the ward round is started. The consultant, registrars and myself go around all the patients that have been admitted, making sure the ventilator settings are correct, the patients observations are stable and their blood is well oxygenated. Decisions such as whether to prone the patient (laying the patient on their front in order to improve oxygenation) or possibly extubating the patient (taking them off the ventilator in the event of improvement) are also made at this point.
After this, I continue with jobs, such as booking chest X-rays, doing discharge summaries for the ones that leave ICU having recovered and updating the ward lists. During this time, we are always on call for possible new referrals from A&E and the medicine department.
Perhaps the most uneasy time is when you are required to physically go into the patient’s room. Lanyards, stethoscopes, pens, phones and papers all have to be removed. Then, full personal protective equipment (PPE) is donned. This includes a hat, visor, FFP3 face mask, gown, double gloves and shoe covers. There is a very specific order to donning and doffing the PPE, all to minimise the spread of the virus.
This is an immensely unprecedented and unpredictable time for the whole world. For me personally, it has been the guidance of the Jamaat and of Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa that has been instrumental in keeping me going.
Islam’s emphasis on cleanliness, as well as remembering Allah as much as possible, has allowed me to keep safe, both physically and mentally by the grace of Allah, alhamdolillah.
I have seen and had to verify many deaths from Covid-19. However, equally, I have also seen a far greater number of patients having recovered and been discharged from ICU.
The press and media are full of news about the lack of healthcare resources available to fight this pandemic. I have certainly seen occasions where there has been a lack of PPE, which has hindered patient care. A lack of testing for healthcare professionals has also meant professionals have to stay off sick for longer than they need to.
However, despite being a very high-pressured environment, with new patients coming in, some sadly passing away and others by the grace of Allah getting better, there is a sense of calm to all of the professionals I have been working with. Everyone is fixed on doing their job and doing it as well as they can in order to give patients the best chance of survival.
Personally, I am privileged to be serving humanity in this way. Allah says in the Holy Quran, “Whoso gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind”. Although the job I do puts me at high risk, the sense of elation and happiness I see when someone recovers and is able to leave far, far outweighs it.
We are just at the start of this pandemic and we do not know how it will turn out. My advice to everyone is to ensure high standards of cleanliness are maintained. Wash or sanitise your hands as much as possible, avoid touching your face and maintain social distancing.
In addition, we should put all of our trust in Allah the Almighty and listen and act upon the advice of our beloved Khalifa. This way, we will not only come out of this pandemic safely, we will come out stronger and more pious.
May Allah heal all those suffering from this affliction and keep the whole Jamaat and the world safe and sound. Amin.