Frontline healthcare staff, particularly doctors and nurses, have been working tirelessly to save lives amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country. They have made immense sacrifices, including, for several of them, their lives.
Faced with supposedly inadequate medical facilities, personnel and government funding, many of these indispensable staff are feeling burned out.
This is a letter from a tired doctor:
As the health director general said, our healthcare system is at the breaking point. Let me point it out – it is way past beyond that.
Any healthcare worker in this country knows that even before the coronavirus pandemic started, our medical system was at breaking point with the budget cuts, lack of personnel, overcrowding, and lack of update in facilities (Exhibit A: Multiple fires at the same hospital in Johor and yet nothing is told to the public).
The healthcare workers had a new synonym – ‘frontliners’ – in the battle against the ravages of this pandemic.
But it is getting ridiculous at my hospital (Hospital Sungai Buloh), also known as the Covid hospital of Malaysia. Since all this started, we have been exposed to a highly infectious environment and deal with an unknown minuscule war creature. In Malaysia, 2% of infected cases are healthcare workers.
I am a doctor working at this hospital, and I can say the basic amenities that are supposed to be given for us are not provided. Sometimes we do on-call shifts every other day in dealing and managing Covid patients and continue working after an on-call shift until 5pm.
I understand that it is our job and I am grateful for it. They are supposed to provide us with on-call rooms, provide us on-call food, provide us with a proper place to at least take a break and even rest before continuing to face this battle, but all this has been taken away or we are told it is not available at the moment.
They said there’s been a hospital budget cut so they cannot provide on-call shift meals. Do you know how exhausted and tiring our shifts are plus wearing personal protective equipment in the midst of all this? And yet, when we want to take a break, there is no proper place to rest, and worst of all, we can’t even have a proper meal.
We already brought these issues to a higher authority (even the hospital director) but I guess our issues fell on deaf ears. Some senior doctors even said that unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions and said we were pampered. (Well, during your time you did not have a pandemic to deal with!)
Most of the doctors are annoyed. Some of my colleagues fell into depression and started taking anti-depressants. Some of us haven’t even met or visited our families or loved ones for months. We are tired, exhausted, annoyed and way past the breaking point.
Moreover, we miss our families dearly, and is this how you treat us? With the new surge in cases, we expect the worst is yet to come.
We do not want any recognition like murals on walls or some light show on a bridge. We are asking to at least provide us with a comfortable environment to carry out our duties and to treat us like humans working long hours.
Please, would someone help us here?