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News > Alumni News > From the Frontline of Covid-19 - Chris Fugelsang-Jarvis OI

From the Frontline of Covid-19 - Chris Fugelsang-Jarvis OI

I felt a duty...
16 Apr 2020
Alumni News
Chris Fugelsang-Jarvis, class of 2000
Chris Fugelsang-Jarvis, class of 2000

I have been working in the NHS for over 20 years, in multiple clinical and managerial roles and in multiple NHS Trusts. More recently I have been an interim General Manager/Improvement Consultant for the NHS. When the Coronavirus crisis really started to become severe and there was a call for support for the NHS I made the decision to suspend my interim management role and offer my clinical skill to the NHS to help wherever possible. Being skilled in anaesthetics and looking after ventilated patients, I felt a duty to join my NHS colleagues on the frontline in fighting Covid-19. 

I am currently working at a large acute NHS Trust on the outskirts of London. My day to day role is working in ITU looking after, monitoring and managing ventilated patients who are Covid-19 positive. Part of this role will be assessing blood results and making necessary adjustments to ventilator settings or adjusting medications the patient may be receiving. Monitoring trends in patient observations to predict the direction of the patients condition and make early changes to ensure the patient is cared for and their condition does not deteriorate. Working collaboratively with Clinicians, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy and Haematology colleagues to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient. 

My working day starts at 0800 and finishes between 2030 to 2100. During this time I can spend up to 6 hours in a single stint in ITU wearing appropriate PPE and a mask which is now starting to take its toll on my face, as my skin can’t breath and can become sweaty. This is on top of a surgical gown, hat, eye protection, 3 pairs of gloves and separate shoes for inside and outside of the infectious areas. 

The extremely sad and upsetting part of this crisis is the fact that not all patients I care for at the beginning of the day I will be caring for at the end of the day. Knowing that everything that could be done was done is some comfort, but when you have spent several days looking after a patient, caring for that patient, for all efforts to be in vain is difficult and something you never get used to. It is also upsetting knowing that these patients cannot be surrounded by their loved ones when they are in their final hours and families don’t have the opportunity to say goodbye directly. The simple gesture of a loving kiss goodbye is taken away. Having said that we, as healthcare professionals, treat every patient like they are a member of our own family and hope this brings some comfort to families. 

What is more concerning from a personal perspective is I am putting myself into direct contact with the Coronavirus and then go home at the end of the day. Although all precautions are taken and I shower before leaving the hospital, there is always the worry of “am I taking this home with me to my family”. This is a dilemma I contend with every time I don my PPE equipment. 

Regardless of state of health, age or sex, this virus is a killer. Every headline you read or see is about the Coronavirus and the number of people who have died. So, if I can leave you with one message from this piece, it is simple -

Stay at home, stay safe, and let the NHS do what it does best. 

Thanks, Chris
Class of 2000

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