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September 19, 2020

 

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Romani woman on the front lines of COVID-19: Interview with a nurse in the Czech capital

15.4.2020 7:33
Pavlína Balogová in an interview for ROMEA TV (April 2020).
Pavlína Balogová in an interview for ROMEA TV (April 2020).

Pavlína Bologová is a nurse at the Královské Vinohrady Teaching Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic. She has been working in the orthopedics department for eight years.

In an interview with Richard Samko for ROMEA TV, the Romani community member describes everything nurses are grappling with during the COVID-19 pandemic and how she joined the medical profession. The customary daily regimen in the orthopedics department has not changed much except for the increased protective measures now required.

However, the hospital has had to postpone elective surgeries that had previously been planned but are not allowed to be performed at this moment per Government decree. "In our department the regimen is still the same, nothing has changed. They just had to postpone the operations planned, currently they are not allowed to be performed. There are only a few urgent cases here that have to be addressed immediately. Whatever can be postponed is simply being postponed," she told ROMEA TV.

The care for hospitalized patients has not changed. Those who are waiting to be tested for COVID-19 and who had to be hospitalized are separated from everybody else and protective gear is worn when approaching them.

"There's just a different approach to patients suspected of COVID-19 infection, but the same care is reaching everybody," she told ROMEA TV. It is forbidden to visit patients.

According to the nurse, the family members of hospitalized patients and the hospital staff are doing their best to keep the hospitalized patients informed about the current situation. Although the customary daily operations have not changed, patients are aware of the situation.

"Face masks were also worn during our customary operations, but people know what's going on, so it's worse for them to be here. It's true that we never even knew something like this could exist when we were operating under our normal regimen. One always wore gloves, but few wore face masks. Today we no longer enter a patient's room without a face mask," she said.

Although she became a nurse "by accident", Balogová said the work is very enjoyable and fulfilling. "I became a nurse by accident. Nine years ago I lost my job and ended up at the Labor Office. That was the worst time in my life. Then an acquaintance told me that the hospital in Vinohrady was looking to hire. I began as an orderly. Then the head of the Station Nurses offered me a job in orthopedics - I had to finish school, and I've been in that department ever since. I found myself in this work and I really enjoy it," she said.

Because she is a mother of two, she also had to face the decision of whether to remain at home with her children or keep going to work. She says she made the decision on a rational basis.

The way colleagues at the hospital support each other is also important to her. "I work in 12-hour shifts. Our team in orthopedics is amazing, we support each other. I have two daughters, so naturally I'm concerned about whether I could become infected, and I fear bringing an infection home to them. The decision of whether to keep going to work or not was an enormous dilemma for me. It was about my personal safety, to a high degree, and my existential security," she admitted.

brf, th, vhl, sam, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Hospital, Prague, Romani women, Zdraví



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