“Anytime, like a soldier, we are ready to go.” – Sara Kahsay, CURE Ethiopia Head Nurse
The COVID-19 virus is affecting people around the world, and it most recently has reached Sub-Saharan Africa. All countries where CURE hospitals are located have confirmed cases. It’s become a worldwide pandemic, and on the frontlines are nurses.
It is no different at our hospitals.
All CURE hospitals have employed health and temperature screening tents to stop this virus from spreading. Nurses are the ones manning these tents, greeting our patients, and finding the delicate balance between protecting against a threat and engaging our patients in the loving and welcoming way in which CURE has become known.
Head Nurse Sara Kahsay remembers the first days of the COVID-19 screenings, “When (the CURE Ethiopia nursing staff) first arrived, they were nervous. I stood out there myself doing the screenings, as an example.” It soon became evident there were proper protections in place (face masks, gloves, gowns, and distance requirements), and the nurses began to step up to the challenge. “Several nurses expressed to me they are very proud to be a nurse and help at this time,” Sara says.
As a specialized pediatric orthopedic hospital, CURE Ethiopia is not equipped to treat COVID-19 patients. Our role in the fight against COVID-19 is solely one of identification. “If we find a fever, we separate the patient and get a detailed health history. We ask questions before we call the government, and they go for isolation.” Sara explains. But, a pandemic of this size requires all hands on deck. Soon after the arrival of the virus in Ethiopia, the government put out a call to all health professionals asking them to consider adding their names to a list of potential volunteers should the situation deteriorate. Within hours, hundreds of nurses had volunteered their services, many of them CURE Ethiopia nurses.
“God created us to be nurses and we have to help others. It’s not only for the work that is comfortable but also for the work where people need us.” Sara reflects. To Sara and many of our nurses, their occupation is not just a job but a calling. In their way, this is how they emulate Christ here on earth. As Christ came to meet people where they are and offer himself, so do Sara and the nurses. They meet patients in their time of need and offer what they can regardless of whether it is comfortable or not.
While the virus has its physical dangers, it also has emotional dangers like panic and anxiety. People are inundated with bad news and unsubstantiated rumors that seem to go viral in times like these. Sara and the CURE Ethiopia nurses make sure to address this emotional component in their responses to patients and families. Sara notes that when people approach the screening station, the nurses take their time and caringly explain what is happening and why. For many people, it is the first time the situation has been explained to them calmly and rationally by a health professional. When this happens, the rumors fade and the patients relax. While this virus must be taken seriously, it is no time to panic. Nurses are helping patients and families through any anxiety they are feeling.
Finally, just like the rest of CURE, Sara and the nurses recognize that behind the precautions and medical treatment, they are also on the front lines of an unseen battle. “We not only treat the virus, but we also pray.” Please pray for our nurses as they battle this virus every day.