Dubai: A newly-wed woman, mums who had to leave their young children behind and sons who left their aged parents to take care for themselves - these are among the first batch of male and female Indian nurses, who have flown into the UAE to help combat COVID-19.
A total of 88 medics with the Aster DM Healthcare Group, who landed in Dubai on May 9, are now being deployed at various locations. They were flown in on a special flight after they received special permission from the Indian and UAE authorities during the lockdown in India.
Sixty of them are ICU nurses who have been roped in from Aster hospitals in three Indian states to serve at various COVID-19 intensive care facilities in Dubai, said Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare.
After a week of quarantine and one more round of COVID-19 negative results, the nurses began an orientation programme on Sunday.
The deployment to their assigned facilities began today.
“A large number of them are going to hospitals under the Dubai Health Authority,” Dr Moopen told Gulf News in a phone interview.
“DHA is also supporting some private players [healthcare groups] by deputing these nurses to places where there is a requirement. It is important that we support each other now.”
While these nurses are expected to engage in the first-of-its-kind mission temporarily, the rest of the medics, who include nurses and a few doctors who were on vacation back home, will resume their duty in their respective workplaces under Aster, Dr Moopen said.
Despite their personal circumstances, the nurses from India voluntarily took up the challenging mission of battling coronavirus abroad for three to six months when the group sought expression of their employees’ interest.
Though there is a financial advantage in undertaking the special mission, Dr Moopen said most of them were interested in coming over because of the opportunity to serve Dubai during the pandemic.
From newly-wed to COVID warrior
Ashly Jayson, 25, is one of the youngest in the team. An emergency department nurse with Aster Medi City in Kochi, Ashly has three years’ experience in the field.
But the young woman never expected that she would transform herself into a COVID warrior within months after her marriage.
Speaking to Gulf News over the phone, Ashly thanked her husband Jojy John, a photographer-cum-graphic designer, for allowing her to join the unique health mission.
“He is also a socially committed person. He has worked to promote the Kerala government’s ‘Break the Chain’ awareness campaign, sometimes using my pictures.”
“For each and every nurse, this is a challenging situation worldwide. Being part of such a mission is really challenging and needs a lot of courage. I firmly believe all of us will remain courageous and we are very happy to work for DHA and make Aster proud of us.”
Moms separated from kids
Some of the female nurses have had to bid an emotional farewell to their young children.
Stephanie Newton from Aster Bangalore had to leave behind her three children, including the youngest who turned one this month. They are in the care of her husband and family.
“As nurses we need to take up our job with a smiling face and we are here to help people suffering from a deadly disease,” she said.
“Though we have our own concerns, we need to remain courageous and I am thankful that my husband and eldest son are very supportive.”
Meanwhile, Varsha Kanitakar from Aster Aadhar Hospital in Kolhapur in Maharashtra, could not even bid goodbye to her only son, aged nine, as he was away with his father in Raichur in Karnataka.
“It took time for me to convince my husband to let me come. My family will face the challenge of handling my son without me when he has to get back to school.”
The male nurses include Sijo Thomas, who has come over after leaving behind his aged parents. The only son to his parents, Sijo faced a dilemma of convincing them before he set out on the mission.
“All patients are equal for nurses. We should be ready to provide our care wherever it is necessary. We can’t choose the cases. I am really grateful for getting this opportunity to serve people who need our care the most,” he said.
Dr. Moopen said there is a requirement for more healthcare professionals in the UAE to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“We require doctors, especially ICU doctors, and nurses, besides equipment,” he said.
“We have submitted to the authorities that we will be able to provide another 100-200 nurses. We have already identified 100 people in India who have expressed their willingness to come over. We are ready to support the UAE authorities if there is a requirement identified by them. My suggestion is that other countries should also help by bringing in their professionals considering the large number of expat population here,” he added.