For Aliya, a registered nurse born and raised in Calgary, helping women during their most high stress times — labour and delivery — brought her to the high-risk obstetric, labour and delivery unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. For Sameer, a Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania native, medicine came by way of a bachelor’s degree at MIT, where he discovered a passion for surgery not only because of the focus on detail and nuance, but also the broad frontiers for engineering and innovation that could help him contribute to surgical needs in under-resourced settings. Like Aliya, Sameer is also at Brigham and Women’s, serving as a general surgery resident, and will be starting a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery.
For both Aliya and Sameer, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to several changes. As a nurse working with high-risk women, Aliya is accustomed to thinking on her toes. But, the pandemic has added another layer of complications while supporting women who are transitioning to motherhood during a pandemic. Her role is not only to guide women and help them feel comfortable during their time at the hospital, but also to teach them how to keep themselves and their newborns safe once they go home.
Aliya’s advice: “This is an all-inclusive effort whether you are on the frontlines or not, we are all heroes. Every single person has a responsibility to stop the spread — do what you need to stay safe. We will see the end together. Stay strong, stay calm.”
For a surgeon like Sameer, resource constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that frontline providers are being forced to make informed and agile decisions about resource allocation and time-sensitive patient care. Since most elective cases have been cancelled to preserve personal protective equipment, Sameer is using his surgical skills to serve the most vulnerable patients coming through the ICU.
“Despite the current stress, there is a silver lining, in that all people have stepped up, including nurses, technicians, doctors, who are all working closely with each other as a team with a common purpose. Essentially, we are all trying to fight an enemy that we can’t see, yet we persevere and work together.”
Sameer’s advice: “This is a difficult time for all members of the community but it is extremely crucial that we adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and follow through on handwashing guidelines to minimise exposure. Continue doing the right thing, you all are making a difference even though you do not see the impact in real-time. Rest assured, and we pray for everyone’s safety, mental-health and social wellbeing.”