Father unable to hold his baby girl because of his Covid-19 nursing duties

‘Since I went back to work I sleep in a separate room and am not able to feed or hold her’


Just over a month ago, Yogesh Bhurtun, a nursing assistant at Dublin’s Mater Hospital, became a father for the second time. His daughter Tanvi was born less than 24 hours after the Government announced the closure of all schools nationwide due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Hospitals were also introducing restrictions and while Bhurtun was allowed into the Rotunda for his daughter’s birth, he was unable to visit during the five days his wife Manisha spent at the maternity hospital.

He returned to the Rotunda on Wednesday, March 18th to pick up his wife and daughter and spent the following two weeks at home helping to look after Tanvi and his five-year-old daughter Yashika.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic Bhurtun worked on the Mater’s geriatric ward. When he returned to work on April 1st the ward had been converted into a specialised area for patients suffering from coronavirus.

Bhurtun, who is originally from Mauritius, is now working night shifts with some of the sickest Covid-19 patients in the hospital. When he returns home during the day he has to self-isolate from the rest of his family and can no longer hold his baby girl.

“Since I went back to work I sleep in a separate room and am not able to feed or hold her. My five-year-old daughter, she’s been watching the news so she keeps her distance from me.

“My wife has been amazing; she’s doing everything and is up all night, feeding and changing the baby.”

Bhurtun says the team on his ward have been incredibly supportive. “All the training we’re getting is amazing – the ward manager is always telling us to take our time, take everything step by step and think of our safety and the safety of the patient. The ward manager has her staff very well trained in infection control: we know what we need to do.”

He says medical staff have access to sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) and take every precaution necessary to stop the virus from spreading.

His work includes providing support to family members who must dress in PPE before entering the ward to say their final goodbye to loved ones.

“If someone’s situation becomes critical we make sure the family come in wearing full PPE. We know if they die of Covid-19 they [the families] won’t be able to see them again. They can’t stay long, it’s only for a short amount of time.”

Nurses are often the last people to hold the hand of people who die from the virus, says Bhurtun. “We let them know they’re not on their own, that somebody is there. In this situation we are often the ones to hold their hand at the end for the last breath.”

The public should know that it’s not only health care workers on the frontline of hospitals, but also kitchen staff, porters and cleaning staff, says Bhurtun. “Everyone is doing an absolutely amazing job through teamwork and good communication.”

The nursing assistant urged members of the public to continue to stay home so that hospitals do not become overwhelmed with patients.

“I like my job but this is a very challenging for all of us. We’re not able to stay home but other people should stay home for us.

“The sooner this is over, the sooner all the staff working in hospitals can spend time with their families. Like me they’ll be able to hold their babies again and support their families. Everyone is waiting for this to be over.”

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