- Title: Pakistan nurse recovers from virus, feels more empathy towards patients
- Date: 29th June 2020
- Summary: FAMILY PHOTOS IN ROOM
- Embargoed: 13th July 2020 05:56
- Keywords: Pakistan coronavirus daily life family nurse
- Location: KARACHI, PAKISTAN
- City: KARACHI, PAKISTAN
- Country: Pakistan
- Reuters ID: LVA003CKF8GG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Pakistani nurse Unzala Erum puts on her gown, apron, masks, gloves and goggles as she prepares for her shift in the COVID-19 Emergency Ward at Indus Hospital in Karachi.
But it is not just her experience as a nurse that puts her at good stead with the patients, but the fact that she herself had caught the virus and recovered from it.
Unzala, who has been with the private hospital for the last three years, began working in the coronavirus ward after hospital officials started the facility following the first case to emerged in Karachi in February. Despite strict precautions and protective gear, Unzala caught a fever and cough earlier this year. She was tested for the coronavirus and the result came back positive and she had to be isolated for 14 days.
While in isolation, Unzala says she kept in touch with her family by phone. But at her hospital, patients in the emergency ward are not allowed to have family members visit or cellphones/
"I realized what the patients must be going through. Then I decided and I promised to myself that whenever I rejoin my work, I will focus more on how patients can contacted (their family) in any way, or even I can convey their messages to their families," she said.
Although since recovered, she remains fearful of potentially passing on the virus to her family members due to her job. At home, she keeps to herself in her room, playing the guitar, reading and using her cellphone. Her father Khalid Pervez Bhatti, a retired paramedic, cooks for the family, but they won't eat together. Her brother brings the food to her and Unzala eats by herself in her room.
"The biggest fear is that I might infect my father who is living with me and is elderly, above 50 years of age. He is someone who falls into the high-risk category," she said.
Her mother lives and works in Dubai and Unzala and her father keep her assured of the safety precautions they are taking. Despite the risk, Unzala's father still sends her to work regularly on his motorcycle and she is determined to provide better care for the patients under her charge.
Colleagues say they too have noticed the difference in the way Unzala and other staff who have recovered from COVID-19 now interact with patients.
"All our health-care providers who have had COVID and have come back, they have come back with extra zeal. They have come back with extra energy. They have come back with extra determination. Their empathy levels towards the patients have gone up," says Saima Salman, a consultant doctor at Indus Hospital emergency department.
The totla number of total cases in Pakistan reached 198,883 on Sunday (June 28), with the death toll at 4,035.
(Production: Waseem Sattar, Shahabuddin Shahab, Travis Teo)
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