Nursing staff act as a protective and preventive shield against the transmission of any infection, including Covid-19, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) head nurse at the Leabaib Health Centre, Ebtisam Abdullah, has stressed.

“Our nurses help protect the medical staff and all health centre visitors from possible contraction of the coronavirus on a daily basis. This is achieved through a set of precautionary measures taken by the nursing staff before patients walk into any health centre,” said Abdullah.

These measures include a quick desk test, checking of the body temperature, asking Covid-19-relevant questions and taking note of any respiratory symptoms or symptoms similar to Covid-19, such as coughing, sore throat and fever, the PHCC said in a statement.

According to Abdullah, visitors at all health centres are treated as suspected Covid-19 cases. “In the event any of the above symptoms are detected, the patient will be treated as a suspected Covid-19 case and asked to sanitise his or her hands and to wear a surgical mask. They will then be admitted into the isolation room immediately,” she explained.

Following admission, nurses will carry out further precautionary measures by checking vital signs and performing the Covid-19 swabbing test. After the test, the nursing staff will explain further steps that the patient will need to take, including the quarantine procedure. Nurses will also ensure that patients complete the Undertaking Form, based on which he or she will be given a standard booklet from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), containing important guidelines that are to be used as a reference during the quarantine period.

Once a suspected case is discharged from the isolation room, the nursing staff supervises the disinfection process as part of the PHCC’s efforts in combating the spread of Covid-19.

According to Abdullah, nurses also make sure to follow up with home-quarantined patients. She said, “Calls are made daily to offer patients support and to monitor their health condition, while answering any queries they might have with regards to their current health status.”

Another significant role played by nurses is that of creating and spreading awareness about Covid-19 among patients. These include reminders on the importance of practising social distancing, as well as the need for regular hand sanitisation and the benefits of wearing a face mask.

“If a positive Covid-19 case is detected, we adopt all the measures outlined by the MoPH,” said Abdullah. “First, a doctor will contact the patient and inform him or her of the test results. Then, a request for further tests are made using the patient’s database. Following this, the nursing staff will co-ordinate with the four centres that are allocated as Covid-19 quarantine facilities (Muaither, Rawdat Al Khail, Al Gharafah and Umm Slal) in order to carry out the required tests. Based on that, the patient will be transferred to a suitable quarantine facility,” she explained.

To cover the global shortage of nurses and to meet the needs of health sectors worldwide after the Covid-19 outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there was an urgent need for an estimated 5.9mn nurses to help cope with the pandemic.

"Like all other countries, Qatar faced a shortage of medical staff and in particular, nurses. Many were unable to return to work at the end of their annual leave due to the temporary suspension of flights. Additionally, PHCC’s health centres experienced a shortage of existing nurses when 30% of its nursing staff was allocated to the MoPH in support of the Covid-19 crisis plan," the PHCC statement noted.

“In an effort to overcome these challenges, the PHCC was able to acquire skilled nurses on a temporary, urgent basis,” said Abdullah.

“Our nurses also had to put in long hours at the health centres in an effort to battle this pandemic. It has not been easy, but our sense of duty and responsibility towards our patients and the nation of Qatar, along with the support of many other groups and service providers, has helped us face these obstacles head-on. We managed to contribute towards accomplishing the desired outcomes in confronting this pandemic, which we hope will soon come to an end.”