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Overtime, bruises and abuse: The reality for doctors and nurses working on the frontline.

Healthcare staff around the world are tired.

Tired, and sore, and run off their feet – and they know the end is still far, far off in the distance.

“I feel broken – and we are only at the start. I am begging people, please please do social distancing and self isolation,” wrote British nurse Natalie Silvey on Twitter.

All your COVID-19 questions, answered. Post continues below video.

Video via Mamamia

She’d just spent nine hours in personal protective equipment moving patients critically ill from COVID-19 around London.

Her face wore the marks of the busy, high stress, uncomfortable shift with deep red and purple bruises caused by the mask she must wear to keep herself safe while working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I feel your pain.”

In reply, first responders, doctors and nurses shared their own photos to show exactly what it’s like on the frontline and the toll it can take – not just mentally, but physically as well.

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“Every waking moment.”

As billions of people worldwide find themselves in lockdown and self-isolation, healthcare workers keep going.

Brisbane GP Dr Kamran Ali has gone to work at two Brisbane practices for 24 days in a row.

At one practice, he is the only working doctor so if he took a day off, a weekend or fell ill, the practice would need to close.

On Sunday, Dr Ali’s wife Nazia Nasir shared his story to The Kindness Pandemic Facebook group, offering a glimpse into his reality right now.

“He is truly passionate about his work and even though when he gets home and is really tired, just thinking about all those people that he might help, gives him the drive to work every single day without taking any break.”

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“He is representing one of the many doctors who are working non stop. Because of the govt policy and restrictions, doctors can’t work everywhere and [are] unable to help their fellow doctors… Until and unless he finds another doctor or govt ease some of the restrictions, he will continue to work and provide support to the people who have chronic conditions and are at risk for contracting coronavirus.”

Lisa Mack wrote in the group that her husband, a GP in rural coastal Victoria, was “devoting every waking moment to doing everything he can to safely treat and protect his patients especially those who are elderly, frail, chronically unwell, terminal, pregnant, anxious”.

“He’s given toilet paper to some elderly patients living alone. He visited the nursing home on Sunday and administered 48 fluvax to his resident patients. He called his most vulnerable patients and saw them on Sunday one-on-one so they were safe. He’s been visiting and treating patients at home including the beautiful medical receptionist who’s terrified she’s been exposed to COVID as she greets everyone at the front desk…

“He left home at 7.30am. It’s now 7pm. He’s just doing two home visits before he gets home and goes straight to the laundry bathroom for a hot wash down.”

‘Healthcare workers are putting themselves at risk for you’.

Brittany Hockley is a radiographer, and on Sunday the 2018 Bachelor star revealed the current reality of her job, which is sadly witnessing patients take healthcare workers for granted.

 

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She started by telling people to “stop being idiots”.

“Right now, your health care workers are working overtime for you. Putting themselves at risk for you. Getting no sleep for you. Going home crying for you. Coming out of retirement for you,” she said in a post on Instagram, alongside an image of her in scrubs and a face mask.

“Seeing patients abuse Drs, nurses, radiographers, receptionists and other staff for the waiting time and the ‘treatment’ they are getting is disgraceful. Yelling at healthcare workers because they are caught getting a drink of water (can guarantee it’s probably the first break they’ve taken in 12 hours) is disgraceful.”

She said healthcare professionals were doing their best for their patients.

“I’ve had drs write to me saying they have to see certain patients now without the right protective equipment because of the shortage, because people are stealing it and over buying it when they don’t need it.

“We need to be kept safe so that we can keep YOU safe. It’s simple.”

“I’m afraid to go to work.”

Earlier in March, Italian doctors and nurses gave a glimpse into their reality by sharing their experiences on social media.

“I’m afraid too. But not to go shopping, I’m afraid to go to work,” wrote Italian nurse Alessia Bonari in an Instagram post featuring her weary, bruised face.

“I’m afraid because the mask may not adhere well to the face, or I may have accidentally touched myself with dirty gloves, or maybe the lenses do not completely cover my eyes and something may have passed,” she said.

“The lab coat makes me sweat and once dressed I can no longer go to the bathroom or drink for six hours. I can’t afford the luxury of going back to my quarantined house, I have to go to work and do my part.

“I am psychologically tired, and as are all my colleagues who have been in the same condition for weeks, but this will not prevent us from doing our job as we have always done,” she explained.

 

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As Dr. Daniele Macchini, an ICU physician in Bergamo, Lombardy, wrote on Facebook: they’re in the middle of a war.

“I myself watched with some amazement the reorganisation of the entire hospital in the past week, when our current enemy was still in the shadows: the wards slowly ’emptied’, elective activities were interrupted, intensive care were freed up to create as many beds as possible,” he wrote.

“All this rapid transformation brought an atmosphere of silence and surreal emptiness to the corridors of the hospital that we did not yet understand, waiting for a war that was yet to begin and that many (including me) were not so sure would ever come with such ferocity.”

Read more on COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health advises that the only people who will be tested for COVID-19 are those with symptoms who have either returned from overseas in the past 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days. 

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

Feature images: Twitter and Instagram.

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