David Adenuga, Bauchi
Until she was married about four years ago, Jessica Oche was the first and last mass communicator, having graduated from the Department of Mass Communication at Benue State University. But all of that changed with her marriage to her American husband, as a result of which she had to move to God's own country.
Once in the USA, she realized that there was little she could do with her Mass Communication certificate; therefore, she didn't have to think twice when his father-in-law, who also lives in the USA, suggested that she should pursue a career in nursing.
She said: I actually studied Mass Communication at Benue State University, but my marriage to a family that is all in the medical field motivated me to join Nursing, along with the fact that my diploma (in Mass Communication) nor I wouldn't even go to get a job in my field of study.
“My father-in-law, doctor, suggested that I try nursing. That meant I was going to start over from scratch, which was kind of hard. But then, we were talking about my life. If I wanted a good job and a comfortable life, I needed to try to see if it was something I liked.
“So, I started a Nursing Assistant class, which is a four-month course. It was a chore, but I love it. That is how I found myself fully today.
Upon completing her Nursing Assistant and Medical Technician courses, she began working in a nursing home as home care, which involved going to bedridden patients at home, giving them medication and watching them for a scheduled number of hours.
She said: “Actually, I was doing two jobs at the time, but when nursing school started and I couldn't handle two jobs, I started working in the nursing home on a part-time basis.
“In March 2019, I did clinics at the Highpoint Regional Hospital. I was hired and started working there. "
Although she had to take a break from her job at Highpoint Hospital since January, after she found out she was pregnant and needed to work in a less busy location than the emergency department where she needed to stand 24/7. week, her eyes turned to travel nurse for years to come.
“I rarely travel, so I want to use the field of nursing to achieve it. I want to travel through seven cities; so I can start coming home for six months and come back here for six months. Travel nursing pays a lot (laughs). "
Jessica recalled that a lot has changed about her life and worldview since she started a career in nursing.
"When I started practicing, I always cried when a patient died," she said with a smile, suggesting that she overcame the emotion.
“I have seen many die. That's what life is. Death is inevitable, as we must all die one day. But being there and watching it happen every day makes you value life even more. "
The COVID-19 challenge
As might be expected from people in the medical profession since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the past two months have been very challenging for Jessica.
Asked how she is coping with the challenge, she smiled and said: “We have handled the pandemic gracefully, using a smile even when it is difficult, just to make patients / residents feel comfortable, as everyone is anxious while tuning in. . and watch the news 24/7 to find out what's going on. About 56,000 deaths in a month would scare someone, you know?
“I currently work in an assisted living in Greensboro, North Carolina, just a 20-minute drive from my home and, of course, some patients / residents who live there have unfortunately been exposed to the virus because most of them go to the doctor's appointment twice a week or for dialysis every other day. As a result, they hired.
“Most patients here are on dialysis. You prepare them in the morning and give them the medicines. Due to their health problems, they need a nurse to be around 24/7. My job here is to take them to hospitals for dialysis, so as not to give in-depth medical treatment, in addition to giving their medications, checking their blood pressure and, in an emergency, calling 911. ”
Jessica recalled that she has been assigned to three infected patients since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the United States. Unfortunately, they are all dead now due to underlying medical conditions.
“Because they had terminal illnesses, at the time they were diagnosed with COVID-19, their families signed up to receive drugs that would speed up their passage process, in which they were placed immediately and died for three to five days. But they were placed in isolation before death and cremated after death, ”she said.
Asked if the deceased patients were Nigerian, she replied in the negative, saying: “I was very sad. They were all white. This facility is mostly white … there is only one black lady, funny enough. Not that they don't accept blacks, but it is very expensive; so black people prefer to go where it is less expensive.
“We have mainly rich whites here. It is like a home for them. They have rooms for themselves, like their homes. They have nurses on hand to give them medicine and eat whatever they want. "
Jessica hinted that the scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE) claimed by health workers in Nigeria also applies in the USA.
“Speaking of getting enough supplies, I would say no, because we need to reuse them right now, which is not safe. But it is better to have one than not to have, so we have no choice but to comply.
“My daily concern is the fear of being infected and going home with my family, along with the fact that I am currently pregnant. But I have no choice but to work.
"The reuse of PPE makes my fears worse, but I keep doing my best every day and praying that I don't get it.
“And here, you must know how to properly handle your PPE, removal and everything. You learn them all. You don't use and take them out anyway; you have to follow the processes, and I must agree that it helps.
"Although I was lucky to see and buy, some are not. But above all, it is all the grace of God.
She considers that many medical professionals are testing positive primarily because of insufficient PPE, noting that almost all health facilities in the United States are currently reusing PPE '.
“Another, I think, is your hand touching your face. I know everyone is trying to stop it, but most of the time it is difficult when your face itches, you will unconsciously touch it before you realize it is.
In her working hours, she said: “My shifts are normally eight hours, but because of calls or some co-workers, as everyone is checked before work every day, because if your temperature is high, you will be sent home.
“Therefore, floors are often understaffed. I had to work 12 hours or 16 hours because I was paralyzed because my relief didn't come. "
She contested claims in some quarters that treatment for COVID-19 in the United States is selective, saying “Not really. But I think it favors younger people than old people because of their weak immune system. Everyone's immune system weakens as they get older. "
Jessica expressed her desire to return to Nigeria in the near future to enlighten Nigerian health professionals on the correct way to relate to patients.
She said: “The only thing that ever occurs to me after working in hospitals and other facilities abroad is to come home to clarify our healthcare professionals about how this should be done, talking about the well-being of patients.
“There is still a lot to learn at home, I need to stay when it comes to dealing with medical issues and well-being. We are far behind in the area of professionalism and how things are being done.
“For example, you can easily lose your license here, even frowning at a patient, not to mention disclosing your illness to anyone. After a patient informs you, you return home, where patients have no say.
“By the grace of God, our country will be better. But it takes work … a lot of work, I must say. "
- The interviewee's real name and photo are withheld on request to protect her work.