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Brave but Scared. Dr. Andrea Talks about Working During the Pandemic

By Bruna Pacheco
On April 11, 2020

Photo by Bruna Pacheco

On March 27, The Campus had the chance to speak for the first time with Dr. Andrea da Silva Pacheco from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is currently working at the Niteroi Hospital Center – “Centro Hospitalar de Niterói” and took the time to share her thoughts about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“I have never in my life thought I would live and be part of a pandemic period. I would never imagine that days like these would arrive with so many resources on technology and medicine around the world,” stated Dr. Pacheco. “It is a constant feeling of big-time fear and possible death.

“We live in a time with a lot of insecurity every single day. We don’t know what is going to happen, how it is going to happen and if it’s really going to happen.”

She recalls when the first patient with COVID-19 arrived.

“We were all very apprehensive because there were no confirmed cases in our town until then,” said Dr. Pacheco. “We realized that it was starting to hit our population.”

Her daily responsibilities in the hospital have become  extremely exhausting as the number of patients coming to the ER has increased greatly.

At the beginning of the week, she had four patients with suspected COVID-19 and two were tested positive. At the end of the week, she had around 50 confirmed patients, while ten patients were  breathing through a ventilator.

“The numbers keep increasing.” 

Social distancing is very important as, “We must decrease the transmission between people otherwise it will keep growing,” she said.

The Brazilian doctor added that people at risk are not only the ones in their 60s and older.

According to the numbers, 50% of her patients that she currently has admitted at the hospital are 60-years old and older, while the other 50% are younger.

At only three-years-old, a little boy was the youngest patient that she treated as he was the son of her first confirmed COVID-19 patient. They are both well and have recovered.

On April 9, The Campus once again had a chance to speak with Dr. Pacheco to have an update on how things are going. 

Luckily, in the hospital where she works the lack of material has not been an issue yet as it has been all over the world. 

“Thank God they have been able to replace all the PPE – Personal Protective Equipment –  without a problem,” she says. “However, they asked us to use it consciously because it is going to end eventually. There is no material to buy in the market any longer.” 

There was no need for the indiscriminate use of people walking around with surgical masks, the N95. 

“In the beginning, only the health-care professionals ourselves needed to wear masks to protect from contaminated patients at hospitals.”

In terms of when the pandemic will be over, the Brazilian doctor is very unsure as in Brazil the coronavirus still hasn’t reached its peak. 

“From what we have been told, the eye of the hurricane should be at the end of April or beginning of May, but we are still waiting. If this information is correct, we believe that in June the spread will end and in July, the beginning of August it will all be resolved,” says Dr. Pacheco.

After numerous draining days and nights at work, she is aware that she can get contaminated at any time.

Getting contaminated is something that people working in the health-care area are positive that it is going to happen eventually.

“We are constantly afraid, it’s a constant fear. We need to wear the material all the time even though we have been extremely careful. No matter how careful we are, people are still getting contaminated,” said Dr. Pacheco. “The fear is to not only get it but also to evolve to a more serious case. I have a colleague that was sent to ICU, but fortunately, she is well and has no risk of death anymore.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19) already killed more people in the whole world during the period of January until April than the H1N1. Unfortunately there are still a lot of people out there in risk. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact communities all over the world, Dr. Pacheco is one of the heroes fighting this COVID-19 battle.

Thank You: Doctors, nurses and medical workers.

Stay safe everyone.

 

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