I’m Josh and I am a nurse at an isolation facility. I trained as a nurse and was an ER nurse for four years before deciding to take a sabbatical to travel. I was barely into my grand globetrotting adventure when the pandemic hit and I found myself back in Singapore. With our Covid-19 numbers rising, there was a need for frontline workers, and so, I found myself back in scrubs, masks and crocs… and a full armour of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).
When life gives you pandemic lemons, well, you dive headfirst into a pandemic community isolation facility, I guess?
A lot has been said about what these community isolation facilities look like and what happens each day. By and large, what you read is fairly accurate, but it paints only part of the picture. For one, while much of the frontline battle was of a physical nature, I found that a lot of my patient care battles were psychological in nature: worry, stress, anxiety, boredom, confusion—all as real as fainting spells, respiratory issues and the occasional emergency.
Unlike a traditional hospital where there are tried and tested SOPs (standard operating protocols) and best practices, much of the work where I was based felt a little like we were making part of it up as we went along. Covid-19 is unprecedented, new and mind-boggling in many ways; so we were constantly learning, keeping our guards up and adapting.
As time wore on, the inevitable drudgery set in and we needed to keep a keen watch for emotional distress, sometimes brought about by bad news from home about a loved one; death of a father, birth of a daughter. Goodbyes that are left unsaid, hellos that can only be done through text, usually, or at best, a short video call. When you see strangers breakdown in front of another stranger, it brings home the depth of seriousness of the situation.
In that moment, I am no longer a caregiver, he is no longer a patient in my care. I become his friend—I hold his hand for as long as it is needed, I let him weep till his tears run dry. For all my years in nursing, at that moment, it is the best I can do and a part of me desperately hopes it is enough.
Josh Sim is a nurse at a community isolation facility. He loves traveling and hopes to resume his globetrotting-backpacking adventure at some point.