CHINA Thousands of medical personnel nationwide rush to Hubei to aid epidemic fight

CHINA

Thousands of medical personnel nationwide rush to Hubei to aid epidemic fight

Global Times

11:09, February 05, 2020

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A team comprised of 138 members from 16 hospitals in Tianjin left for Wuhan on January 28, 2020 to aid the coronavirus control efforts there. (File photo: Xinhua)

To prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading, many Chinese are staying home as boring as it may be, only expecting to go out after the epidemic. Some want to hug their friends, go shopping, or drink milk tea.

But Zhang Liu's wish is to be quarantined immediately.

"After the epidemic, I wish I could be quarantined immediately to ensure the health of my family, neighbors and colleagues," Zhang, an associate chief physician of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Peking University People's Hospital in Beijing, told the Global Times. 

Zhang is among the first batch of 121 members of a Beijing medical team to aid Wuhan, the capital of Central China's Hubei Province and epicenter of the novel coronavirus. The virus has taken the lives of more than 400 people.

The medical team from six hospitals in Beijing, organized by the National Health Commission, left for Wuhan on January 26 afternoon to aid coronavirus control efforts.

Zhang, together with other 19 colleagues from his hospital, joined this medical team. On January 25, the first day of the Chinese New Year, Zhang received the urgent notice to aid Wuhan. 

"I'm from Hubei, having lived there until my graduation from university. As a doctor, especially from ICU, it is my responsibility to treat patients regardless of how dangerous the situation is," Zhang said. 

Without further consideration, Zhang and his colleagues prepared personal luggage and medical supplies for their journey as soon as they could. Zhang is the leader of a 20-member medical team from Peking University People's Hospital to work at Wuhan Tongji Hospital.

"The biggest concern is my family. My baby is only 7 months old, my parents are aged and my father just had cataract surgery," Zhang choked as he spoke over the phone, adding "but there are more patients."

Pioneer members

Members of Communist Party of China (CPC) are playing an exemplary role for carrying out medical work at frontline. There are eight Party members, one probationary Party member and three candidates of Party membership in Zhang's team.

Bao Jing, attending physician of respiratory medicine, acts as the secretary of temporary Party branch in the medical team. She joined the CPC in 2001. "As a member of CPC, it is our nature to play a pioneer role to devote ourselves at this urgent epidemic period," she told the Global Times.

Before the urgent calling for medical team, Party members took the lead to contribute to defeating the epidemic and more than 100 doctors applied to go to Wuhan spontaneously from Zhang's hospital.

"There's no other reason, to work and fight at the hardest and most dangerous place is just my responsibility as a CPC member and doctor," Bao said.

During the first week in Wuhan, five team members have applied to Bao for Party membership. They realized no matter what difficulties are encountered, Party members always rush ahead.

"The leading role of our Party members, especially at such critical moment, has naturally drawn the public closer to the Party organization," Bao noted.

Bao is impressed and touched by two boards on her way to the isolation ward in Wuhan Tongji hospital. One is printed with the Party flag and the pledge to join the Party. In the upper left corner of the other board is a Party emblem, with the words "It's responsibility of doctors to protect patients' health" written in the middle. It was signed by a lot of local doctors.

"It shows the determination and spirit of devotion of Wuhan's doctors. No matter where we are, Party members always rush ahead," she said, adding that "it also inspires me to complete my task with all efforts."

As the secretary of temporary Party branch, Bao should shoulder the cohesion and coordination of the team and ensure everyone's safety. "A most important task is still to treat patients and to contribute to the outbreak control in Wuhan," Bao said.

Frontline war

Wu Anhua, a 58-year-old professor of the infectious disease department of Xiangya Hospital, arrived in Wuhan on January 21 from Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province.

Wu participated in handling large-scale epidemics such as SARS and bird flu and has rich experience in emergency public health events.

Wu has trained doctors and nurses who directly treat and care for infected patients.

"We have trained more than 4,200 medical staff of 30 medical teams from different provinces who are now working in hospitals of 13 districts in Wuhan," Wu told the Global Times.

Wu traveled 270 kilometers and trained for seven different groups of medical staff within a day.

The Peking Union Medical College Hospital organized a 21-member team three hours after receiving the call from the Chinese National Health Commission on January 25. 

The team also includes some senior medical staff who fought against SARS in 2003.

In less than 20 hours, the hospital prepared 53 boxes of medicine, protection ware and daily necessities including diapers.

"Without hesitation" and "duty-bound" are the two phrases that appeared the most in their petitions. The team arrived in Wuhan on January 26 to support the Tongji Hospital.

Zhang Liu told the Global Times that while the constant change and development of virus makes it difficult to treat, they are still confident of winning the war against the epidemic.

Before working in Wuhan, Zhang only learned the regularities of the novel coronavirus from experts. After arriving in Wuhan, the medical team received a series of emergency training lessons on isolation protection and the latest research results of the novel coronavirus.

"However, frontline work is so different and tense. We need to closely observe the symptoms of patients, summarize rules and explore treatment methods. Exploring the unknown is difficult," Zhang noted.

He said he was impressed by the high level of protection required for the illness. During frontline medical service, medical staff are on alert to avoid infection. Only by ensuring the safety of medical staff, could we better treat more patients, Zhang said.

Medical staff in protective clothing sweat, feel confined, and breathe uncomfortably as the clothing is not easily breathable. As wearing the protective clothing can be very troublesome, the medical staff on duty for six hours wear diapers to avoid going to the bathroom on the job, Zhang said.

Heavy protective gear also makes it difficult to inject patients. Ma Yueming, a nurse in Zhang's medical team, said she felt her hands become very clumsy when covered with five layers of gloves. 

She could not even open the needle packing and tear off the tape.

She had to try twice to successfully inject a woman in her 60s, having initial difficulty because of poor vascular conditions - something that had never happened in her career.

The patients in the isolation ward are not accompanied by their family members. In addition to treatment, medical staff need to take care of patients' daily life, even cleaning their urine and feces.

It's difficult to recognize who is in the heavy protective clothing. Medical staff sign their names on the back to remind their colleagues. They wrote "stay strong" on the protective clothing to encourage patients.

"We're actively coordinating with the logistics support to ensure adequate medical supplies. Thanks to support from country, the government and all sectors of the society, we will sustain difficulties together," Zhang said, noting that "frontline medical staff is not fighting on our own." 

The aid from across the country

More than 6,000 medical personnel across China have arrived in Hubei to help local hospitals save novel coronavirus patients.

More are still on the way - four flights from provinces including Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning and Henan arrived in Wuhan on Sunday, bringing 400 medical personnel and a large amount of medical supplies, the China News Service reported.

The doctors and nurses are from different departments, including respiratory, infection and ICU, Jiao Yahui, a deputy head of medical policy and administration bureau under National Health Commission (NHC), told a daily press conference. 

The teams brought medical resources that are in short supply in Hubei. A medical team from East China's Shandong Province brought 100,000 masks. The team from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region brought respirators, electrocardiographs and medicine.

Apart from those of local regions, medical personnel from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) also have rushed to Wuhan. On Sunday, the PLA took over the newly built Huoshenshan Hospital, and 1,400 army doctors and nurses are there to treat coronavirus patients.

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