Experience of a Medical Staff in Wuhan

The interviewee is an old friend of my mom. She is also a nurse who went to support Wuhan during the early epidemic. Before this, she also joined the support of Xiamen BRT explosion.

I first noticed the COVID-19 during the spring festival. Because she has been working in medical field for a long time, she got an overview of the epidemic really quick. Thus, when hospital asked her about whether she is going to supporting Wuhan, I made a “Yes” decision real quick. At the same time, my families were all positive of her decision. This is not only a wish to help the people in Wuhan, but also a recognition of their hospital and ICU.

September 27, 2020, Fujian team left. The whole team was send to Wuhan by Xiamen airline. All the stuffs were really nice to the team members, and give them an amulet as present, wish them all the best. It is not that far from Fujian to Wuhan. After an hour and 20 mins the flight landed on Wuhan airport. All the team members where require to put on N95 mask. The volunteers pick them up directly from the airport to the hotel and also their luggages. The overall process was simplified. That day was gloomy, half dark, without sunshine, and due to the epidemic, no one was on the street. Like a ghost town. The city was under the shadow of virus.

After arriving the hotel, every one has a single room. The hotel rooms are divided into clean area, polluted area and semi-polluted area according to the requirements of hospital experts. At the entrance of the room is the polluted area, where slippers are changed and everything needs to be disinfected before entering the room. The bathroom is a semi-polluted area. According to the requirements of hospital experts, medical staff must take 30 minutes to take a bath every day after returning from work. The innermost place, where the bed is placed, is the clean area. After the shower, medical staff need to change all outer clothes and disinfect other items before entering the clean area. The hotel provides 24 hours meal, and medical staff can go downstairs to pick up food by themselves.

After a two-day hospital-sensing expert training, on January 30, I and other members of the Fujian Team were sent to a hospital in the city center. The team was divided into 6 groups, each of group works 4 hours a day. This is because that the protective measures can only last for 4 hours. At the same time, the protective clothing is not breathable, wearing for a long time and with fatigue can cause symptoms such as suffocation and syncope. Medical staff have a dedicated bus as transportation, and there are two taxis on standby to pick up the team members who missed the bus. Each provincial teams have their own uniform, and they need to wear that suit every time when they go to work. They take off the outermost protective clothing at the hospital after work, and then take off the team uniforms when they get to the hotel entrance. This could best ensure that the virus does not enter the hotel.

Current workload in hospital outnumbered that of usual days. Due to the strong infectivity of pneumonia, the whole hospital has no one except medical staffs and patients. This means that the work of cleaners and carer in hospitals became part of work for nurses. Their work includes but not limited to taking out garbage, washing floors, and handling patients' excreta. So, they have to do much more things than basic medical work. Fortunately, patients are very cooperative in treatment, and they even help nurses do some cleanings sometimes.

I only stayed in the hosiptal located in the center of the city for five days. One day, I went upstair to get medicine with colleagues. When I was passing the ICU, I saw that the space filled with patients. These were all patients tested as positive in coronavirus test. They could only stay in here since other rooms and hospital beds were all taken up. People in the ICU were all waiting for somebody to give out the room or just bed, or they couln’t get good treatment. As a member in the supporting medical team, I and my colleagues have no right to arrange these patients. So, we could only pass away and come back upstair. When we are waiting the elevator, they met a nurse in this hospital. The nurse suddenly cried out when she saw I and her colleagues. She then asked us whether you are members in supporting team from other provinces and where did you come? I told her that they came from Fujian provintial team. The nurse suddenly knelt down and said ," Thank you very much for your support. Without you, we really couldn't continue the work ." The nurse's colleague was diagnosed with virus, and now live upstairs in the ward, she was going up to give her medicine. In the first few days of the outbreak, no one knew that it would develop into such a situation. During those days, Wuhan medical medical staffs are facing and holding great pressure. It’s really hard.

In April 4th, the whole Fujian provintial medical team was allocated into a Infectious Diseases Specialist Hospital. I said that the management and rules there is much more standardized and strict than that in city center hospital. The whole hospital was catologed into Red, Green, and Yellow three range. Red refers to the ward, Yellow refers to the transfer station where doctors and nurses use to disinfect the body, and Green refers to the safe office.The red zone is not allowed to come out unless it is off duty. Entering the yellow area requires 10 processes, and entering the red area requires another 7 processes. Leaving the red and yellow areas also requires these 17 processes. Hospital experts will check and improve the rules based on the actual situation every day. In the actual treatment process, patients‘ medication and meals will be sent over, which do not need nurses, like nurses in the city center hospital, to pick up individually. The central hospital's access to medical staff passed through the central pharmacy. After Mrs.M was transferred from the central hospital, I got the message that all the poeple ini central pharmacy was sick because the central pharmacy was bordered by the patient's waiting emergency room.

A patient needs several procedures from showing symptoms to hospitalization. First, they need to go to the community hospital to confirm the diagnosis, and then the community hospital then contact the designated hospital to confirm the bed. After confirming the bed, they will have a hospital list and then sent to the designated hospital by volunteers. After arriving at the hospital, they were directly send to the designated ward. Then, the nurse calls the medical department to check in. I said, these patients are also experiencing great pressure. Once, I just arrived at the department to arrange beds for patients. They were found robbing for beds, becuase they are afraid that they might not be able to stay in hospital without beds. Then I told them that everyone had arranged a bed, and they were relieved. Wuhan was in the center of the epidemic, the city's medical resources are extremely scarce. Thus, for all patients with mild disease , they are all told to self-quanrantine at home. Hospitals have no time gap to send away a cured person and put in a new patient.

Besides routine ventilator and ecmo as treatment, patients also get plasma of rehabilitated patients. They will also draw lots for drug trials, such as the Redcivir clinical trial. Patients will be informed of specific matters before the drug test, and sign consent, etc. Patients are usually very happy and cooperative with drug trials. After entering the ward, the patient is basically in a state of isolation, and the family members are strictly forbidden to visit. All communication is through WeChat. Medical staff do not take out their personal phones when they work in the ward. All contacts was conducted through public cell phones in the ward, and among medical staff, they communicated by phones and WeChats to minimize contact. After the patient is cured, the nurse will contact the medical department, the medical department will contact the community, and the community will send volunteers to take the isolation observation to prevent the second time of positive results.

I said that in the process of supporting Wuhan, everyone is very loving and united. They encourage, help and understand each other. Every time you take off your protective clothing, you need to line up to enter the room. The first person to change clothes will wait at the door for the people behind you to come out, and then get on the bus and go back to the hotel. One time, while they were working, a nurse's protective clothing suddenly broke, but I still wanted to keep working. Colleagues around her immediately stopped her and advised her to leave the ward and go back to disinfect. To avoid cross-infection, medical staff do not visit each other in the hotel. They could only stay in their rooms after work every day. They didn't go out for a walk downstairs until the end of March when the outbreak subsided and they were recuperating before returning to Fujian.

Fujian provincial medial team stayed Wuhan for 58 days from entering to leaving. During the whole process, some medial staff emotionally broke down, some got insomnia, and some couldn’t sleep without medicine. I had a good condition and feeling. It’s just like working in the normal days. The only difference is that I wear a layer more cloth. This experience supporting Wuhan was so unforgettable for me. It’s a training.

In March 24th, the team finished the tasks and started to go back. We came with a team of 130 healthy people, and leave with the same number. No one was infected. I quarantined with my colleagues in a hotel with hot springs for medical observation and wait for the results of the virus test. We are writing some papers and feedbacks. We also heard that we will be tested again in the Xiamen. What’s more, Xiamen government gave us a 14 days of break. One of us in the team was elected to go to Philippine to aid and help soon. All the medical staffs aiding other countries were all chose from the staff who had abundant clinical experience and who had the experience of aiding Wuhan. However, they won’t do clinical job, but change into tutoring position later.

China's response to the epidemic was quite perfect. The organization of each provincial team, as well as the quick dispatch of medical supplies in a few days. To a great extent, the spread of the epidemic has been alleviated and controlled. However, the training of specialists such as infectious diseases is not enough, and most medical staff sent for aiding are basically temporarily selected from non-communicable disease departments. Most of them have never even been exposed to infectious disease medical care, they depends only on three days of training. In this aspect, there is still much room for improvement.

Interviewed By

Khaleesi Chen



Interview Date



ICU nurse