The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the lives of billions across the world - our interactions, our businesses, our livelihoods, and our lives, have undeniably been altered. An inanimate, invisible enemy has illustrated that we are all bound together as a human race, subject to nature and by compassion.
Our frontline healthcare providers are all too aware of this. Fauzia Karmally of San Jose, California, is an ICU nurse who has been serving tirelessly throughout the pandemic at a Critical Care Level Two Trauma Center in Santa Clara County. In fact, it was one of the hardest-hit counties in California. With over thirty years of experience as a nurse, Fauzia stated that “the virus has completely changed our care delivery…being in the ICU unit we are their last resource and we must always uphold the dignity of human life or death.”
The nature of the highly contagious virus has created vast policy and protocol changes within hospitals. Family members and close relatives are not able to be physically present in the last moments for many of the COVID-19 patients, and this is where the nurses really help to bridge the gap by compassionate-care delivery.
Digital interactions have to suffice for many of the patients who are intubated, ventilated, and ultimately alone. Fauzia has been unremitting in her commitment to providing care for her patients despite obvious ongoing exposure to the deadly virus. During peak incidence, her hospital was seeing over 60 COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit.
A Karachi native who graduated from the Aga Khan University School of Nursing (AKUSON) in 1988, Fauzia completed her RN as well as her BSN program under a scholarship, and was a gold medalist recipient for her clinical expertise, graduating with honors. She remarks that with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance on attaining exemplary education, her father encouraged her to pursue nursing. She was then hired at the Aga Khan University Hospital as a nursing educator and tutor.
Fauzia’s expertise transcends hospital boundaries. She served on the Aga Khan Health Board in Pakistan and also worked with 17 Religious Education Centers to improve basic healthcare literacy in young school-aged children. Some of these programs included teaching basic hygiene such as proper washing techniques and oral hygiene care.
Upon immigrating to California in 1994, her expertise and care portfolio has only expanded. Fauzia obtained her MSc in Nursing. She has been a care provider in most facets of medicine from neonatal ICU units to trauma care, and from pediatric care to oncology.
Fauzia has also served the Jamat as a volunteer for Al-Ummah and Camp Mosaic, and at Jubilee events. For her Time and Knowledge service, she visited the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar-Es-Salaam in 2017 to train nurses in basic ICU competencies and best practices.
Fauzia has worked at the Regional Medical Center of San Jose in the ICU for the last 23 years. She has used her expertise in times of crisis for all the communities around her. When the ravaging deadly fires raged through Butte County in Paradise California, Fauzia was there to offer her unique skillset in trauma care.
In a time of crisis or calm, Fauzia has maintained a steadfast and admirable commitment to her patients. Her values of compassion, service, and integrity are commendable and in keeping with the ethics of our faith. Within and beyond the hospital walls she has transformed lives and stayed devoted to bettering the human condition in our weakest moments.