A Medical Frontliner’s Struggles

We wanted to check-in with you. How are you feeling in terms of working in the current COVID-19 pandemic? 

Initially, I felt quite overwhelmed. I am currently a paediatric medical officer in a tertiary hospital in the Klang Valley. As a frontliner in the medical field, it was the worst for me during the first two waves of COVID-19 infections in Malaysia. We constantly received patients who were children from as young as a few months old to about 12 years old. Things in my workplace also changed exponentially. We had sudden changes to our SOPs, and less personnel in the wards.

Some of my colleagues were even suspected to have COVID-19! Thankfully, they tested negative. Going to work everyday felt full of anxiety and slightly depressing; I kept on questioning, “Why did I get myself in this field in the first place?” The start of the pandemic really did not give me hope for any improvement.

Eventually, after the Movement Control Order (MCO), there was a slight reduction in the number of the suspected COVID-19 cases. We had less patients as most people living around my area were compliant to the MCO. That’s when I thought to myself: “Okay, we can win this!”

What are some of the challenges that you face at work and how do you deal with them?

Having to change into PPE (personal protective equipment) multiple times a day was a challenge. It was even more challenging and tiring when I had to wear the PPE and perform procedures such as blood taking, line setting, and lumbar punctures on small kids.

I felt bad having to poke them multiple times but I had to because it’s so difficult to do the procedures while in full PPE. The other challenge was dealing with patients who weren’t honest with their exposure to anyone who was suspected to have COVID-19, or who were tested positive, as they could have put all healthcare workers at risk of infection.

Thankfully, we always donned our PPEs when we saw patients, regardless of what illnesses they were having.

Why do you still choose to serve despite knowing the risk and fear?

What still keeps me going is seeing my lil’ munchkins—my patients—from the first day of admission—when they’d appear very ill—to the day they’re discharged from the ward, when they can run around happily, and ask to play with me. To me, that’ll always be the cherry on top of this profession.

— G.