‘Understaffed, overworked & under immense stress’

Frontline medical personnel registering returnees at the entrance of a quarantine centre in Kohima. (Morung Photo)

Frontline medical personnel registering returnees at the entrance of a quarantine centre in Kohima. (Morung Photo)

Frontline medical personnel  share their challenges


Atono Tsükrü Kense
Kohima | June 6

Amidst the acute shortage of medical personnel in our state combating the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of resignations put in by medical professionals under National Health Mission came as a further blow, prompting the Health & Family Welfare Department to issue a press statement requesting them to ‘withdraw their applications under humanitarian consideration and resume services in their respective posting place within 7 days.’

Following these developments, efforts made by The Morung Express to find out the basis behind the resignations revealed underlying facts that frontline workers are “understaffed, overworked and under immense stress.”

A top health official clarified that they have not officially submitted their resignations, but that many doctors and nurses were planning to resign. He also said the reason behind their ‘planned resignation’ was not because of any other reasons, but that they are overburdened with workload which has overwhelmingly increased with the influx of returnees during the past few weeks.

“As the regular staffs are mostly elderly, most of the work and responsibilities have been given to them and they are overstressed with hardly any time for rest,” said the official.

While their profession requires both mental and physical strength, understaffed nurses and doctors on the frontlines are finding themselves in a myriad of challenges both at work and personal lives and are struggling to cope with immense stress and uncertainty.

Citing an instance where a nurse broke down at work in Dimapur and need the intervention of counselor and psychiatrist, the official said that COVID-19 designated counselors and psychiatrists are conducting series of counseling for the medical personnel.

Recounting the onset of work in preparation for COVID-19 pandemic, the health official said, preparation for the medical personnel started since January with numerous trainings, awareness programmes, mock drills etc, in continuous process. “The preparation trainings itself was overwhelming, and now face-to-face with the virus, we are all worked out and unable to rest,” said the official.

“With thousands of people coming in, our health workers do all the registration and screening as well, besides their duty at quarantine centres, hospitals with 6 hours duty and they have to be on the alert always,” informed the official.

On the numerous complaints by the inmates in the QC, the official maintained, “Our doctors are nurses are having the same food and sleeping on the same bed as them.”


'We are beaten, tired and stressed'
An NHM nurse and a mother who is currently in a quarantine facility after completing her 7-days duty at quarantine centre said, “the challenges brought by their pandemic is becoming overwhelming for many of us.”

Highlighting the problems faced by the nurses, she said, “we are understaffed and overburdened with work at the moment and we are extremely beaten, tired and stressed out.”

She said she hasn’t seen her children and husband for weeks now, and it will be another week until she can go home. Stating that her husband is shouldering the responsibilities of their children and home, the nurse added that like everybody else, they have their own problems and issues both at work and home.

Though stressed and tired, she asserted, “this is our (medical personnel) war and we have to face it head on. We have taken an oath of commitment in the service of humanity.” While affirming their commitment on behalf of her coworkers, she expressed her wish, “if only people can also understand our side of the story too – the efforts we are putting, our problems and challenges that we face.”

“As human, there may be times we might have failed to meet the expectations of the inmates, but we genuinely feel and care for them. We all need to work together to fight this pandemic,” was her message.

She also thanked the department and its officials for listening to the grievances of the nurses in arranging a quarantine facility for them. “With the returnees and many positive cases, we are apprehensive to go home to our children and families. Though we miss them, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said the nurse.

Another nurse in quarantine conceded on the acute shortage of nurses which she said, is overtaxing the existing workforce and straining the mental and physical health of the medical personnel.

As the days progress, this COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the challenges and problems confronting every section of the people at all levels. Undeniably, it’s a strenuous time of uncertainty. Despite being understaffed and overworked, our doctors and nurses have courageously risen to the challenge to combat this pandemic, and they need our good wishes and prayers.