COVID-19 porter warns J’cans about deadly virus

September 02, 2021
A porter pushes a gurney from a COVID-19 unit.
A porter pushes a gurney from a COVID-19 unit.

A COVID-19 porter at one of the island's hospitals is urging citizens to take greater responsibility to protect themselves from contracting the deadly virus.

The porter, who deals strictly with COVID-19 patients, whether confirmed or suspected cases, states that his job is to carry samples to the laboratory for testing, and to transfer patients from the isolation ward to the regular wards. But on nights and on weekends, he is responsible for removing bodies of those who died from COVID-19 to the morgue.

"From the first week I started working, I removed four bodies. It didn't rackle my mind. I hope people are watching and learning from this. There is an increase in deaths, maybe not on my shift but trust me, a few happen in the days and a lot happen in the nights. I don't know what's going on but there is an increase in deaths. There is also an increase in admissions. Sometimes the wards are so full, we can't move them on to the wards and they are stuck in isolation and more persons are admitted," he said.

The healthcare worker, who only started the job this year, admitted that he didn't know what to expect but got accustomed to the job in the first week.

"It didn't bother me or anything. I just learned the area, learned what to do and it became naturally easy. I think it is physically easy but how you go about handling the day, that's where it gets tricky," he said. He told THE STAR that he tends to at least 50 patients daily.

Oh my Lord, it got very bad

"When I first started it was hectic, there were patients coming in. During the March to April period, it was calm, we barely saw COVID-19 patients. It was peaceful and then around July to August, oh my Lord, it got very bad. I have to be constantly supplying oxygen and I think on an average, we give around 90 oxygens per day because we have to take them (tanks) out to get refilled and bring them back and it's just a cycle, which is hectic and the most straining part of the job," he related.

The 24-year-old shared that most times he is the only porter working in the isolation ward, hurriedly sourcing oxygen to give infected patients. Working on the COVID-19 wards, he has to be fitted in scrubs, an N-95 mask, another mask, double hairnets, double footscrubs, personal protective equipment gown, double gloves and a face shield. He is appealing to the public to follow the advice of the health professionals.

"COVID-19 is not a joke thing, it's not something to be laughed at really. Everybody should be taking precautions, looking out for their each other and they should be eating healthy, taking their vitamins, building their system. It's not something to laugh about. I've seen families torn apart by it. I've seen people come in and that's their last place, their resting pace basically. Some make it out but some don't. It's a very sad thing," he stressed.

While he has grown accustomed to the harsh reality of the pandemic, he uses music to cope.

"It is really a lot but you have to straighten your socks and head out. I use music to keep positive and I don't leave without and that is what is keeping me somewhat sane because it is really stressing," he said.

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