Groote Schuur Hospital reflections – Dirk Eiman
Groote Schuur Hospital values self-reflections to enable employees to take a step back, reflect on the current COVID-19 situation, integrate learnings, plan for the future and celebrate both personal and professional accomplishments. The first employee of the reflections initiative is Dirk Eiman, a Senior Professional Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Groote Schuur Hospital.
“Being an ICU nurse is very intense, we provide the ultimate intensive care to critically ill patients,” is how Dirk describes working in the ICU for the past 34 years. His wife is also an ICU nurse at another hospital. When Covid-19 patients started to be admitted to the ICU at GSH quick reactions were required, recalls Dirk. “Staff were fearful and scared. How will we be able to cope? But management at the hospital acted quickly. We had six ICU wards allocated for Covid-19 patients. Staff were allocated according to their risk profile and the care they could provide. We worked more shifts because we had more patients and staff got sick as well and we had to cover for each other. We had all our personal protective equipment that we needed to perform our duties in the area.”
Covid-19 has taught all of us many lessons, and for Dirk it was that “Our biggest lesson in ICU is to never take a diagnosis for granted. Anyone can get Covid-19, no matter who [they] are. Be caring for everyone, this includes staff and your patients. In my personal life, I have grown even closer to my family, so love your family.”
During this extraordinary situation of COVID-19 we needed emotional mechanisms to make things easier. “I start my day with a daily spiritual message to help me control my emotions for the day. One of the most emotional parts of being in the ICU was doing video calls with family members. We received cell phones so that we can call family members since visitors are not allowed. There were tears daily when family members saw how the patient is ventilated. Our joy was when patients [came] off the ventilator and eventually discharged. We have had patients discharged after more than 50 days. Emotionally, their discharge makes it all worthwhile for me as a nurse in ICU.”
“Covid-19 is still going to be with us for a while, [so] please be careful and listen to the professionals by adhering to their advice by practicing precautionary measures daily”, Dirk added.