A Frontliner Died From Fatigue But At Hospitals, Life Goes On; "We're Walking Zombies", Says Doctor

Frontliners have no choice but to push on.

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A Frontliner Died From Fatigue But At Hospitals, Life Goes On;
Malaysians woke up to reports of a frontliner that allegedly passed away due to fatigue today.

According to Harian Metronews of Dr Ali Noor Hassan's death was announced via a Facebook post by the Skuad Pengurusan Jenazah - SPJ Malaysia.

In the post, SPJ Malaysia said that they were informed of Dr Ali Noor Hassan's death through his Facebook page. 

"This is the last picture of him taken by his friend before he fell ill because he was just too tired and exhausted due to the workload and lack of time to rest while working as a KKM frontliner battling COVID-19. 

"It is understood that he slept off while working and fainted," the post read. 

The heart-wrenching image of the sleeping doctor was shared by many netizens who flooded the comments section with condolences. 

The doctor's death and the photo is a reminder of how much work our frontliners are being pushed to do due to the pandemic. 

Walking zombies

Turning to prayers.
At a government hospital, before the morning shift, a short moment of silence is observed for Dr Ali Noor Hassan but right after that, it's back to work. 

Speaking to Rojak Daily, Dr Jean (not her real name) said that the hospital's condition was just getting from bad to worse. 

"We're basically like walking zombies now. It's a nightmare here but there's nothing much we can do. It is a call and we have no choice but to suck it up and push on," she said. 

Investigation, analysis and clusters.
Describing the daily workload, Dr Jean said that on-site investigating work was more prevalent now. 

"We have to go to the site, investigate the area, the people and report back to analyse if it is linked to current clusters or not. 

"We also have to take samplings, deal with post-exposure, post quarantine discharges, scheduled swab tests and attend to the neverending walk-ins that require to get swabbed as well," she said. 

While doing all this, doctors and other frontliners are often stuck in their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits for up to five to six hours.

"Basically we push on until we can't take it. When we finally surrender, another person takes over," she said. 

Taking turns to carry the load.

Crowds to clear

At the discharge areas, it's another nightmare. 

"For example, this one Klinik Kesihatan where I am stationed at from time to time has about four to five medical officers. 

"This small group has to reassess 600 to 700 patients a day to see if they are fit to be discharged or not. 

"It's a crazy number but we have to do it. We just have to put on our suits and complete checks for the whole crowd," she revealed. 

Fit to leave or not.
As for referring patients to a different clinic, that's not an option. 

Dr Jean said that other clinics had their own usual appointments and walk-ins to deal with. 

"Then it comes to work at the district office. Data sorting, reports, referrals. It's work, work and more work and this is just in 24 hours. 

"When the new day starts, the cycle begins again," she said adding that it was mentally and physically draining but frontliners don't have a choice.

Rest? Eat? We do it when we can

Resting while they can.
"What about eating? Breaks in between? Do you have time for that?" asked this writer. 

A long laugh ensues. 

"We eat when we can. There is no time set aside for that. There is no time for anything actually. I'm tired. I'm super duper tired. I hardly talk to family or friends. I have many pending unread messages on my phone from loved ones who are just checking up on me but I have no time to even read them.

"Thank God, I'm still living with my mum. When I go home, I don't feel like talking, and she understands and lets me be. I'm thankful for that," she said. 

No rest.
Dr Jean continued and said that the growing COVID-19 numbers were extremely frightening. 

"We don't have enough beds. We don't have enough equipment and it frustrates me that people are still taking things so lightly. 

"When you allow them to quarantine at home, they're out and about," she said angrily. 

Lying patients aplenty

Patient lying about who they've met, where they have gone and their symptoms is also an enormous problem.

"I actually got COVID a few months ago because of a patient that lied to me. He came in with diarrhea problems but didn't tell me that he had symptoms. When I ran his name in the positive case database, his name was there. That's how I found out and by then it was too late."

"I had pneumonia and was admitted but God healed me," she said. 

Hanging by a thread.

Annoyed and frustrated, Dr Jean said that the only thing that could improve the situation is for people to be more responsible and transparent. 

"Don't lie. Don't take COVID lightly and go about your life like there's no pandemic happening. As for the Government, I wish they would just tighten the regulations for MCO 2.0. 

"Stop pleasing people and just buck up. Your frontliners are wearing out. We're dying!" she said, before excusing herself to attend to patients. 

Skuad Pengurusan Jenazah - SPJ Malaysia on Facebook

The brief conversation we had with Dr Jean demonstates how dire the situation is at our hospitals. 

On Tuesday (20 January) alone, Malaysia recorded 3,631 COVID-19 cases, with 14 deaths.

Our health director-general has also warned that cases could rise to 8,000 a day if we do not control the spread now. 

So, before you decide to go against some SOP, think about the picture of that sleeping doctor and the hundreds of other frontliners who are working like walking zombies to keep you, us safe.

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