Croydon Hospital medical director speaks of “significant traumas” during worst days of coronavirus pandemic

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

The medical director at Croydon University Hospital has opened up about the difficulty of caring for dying patients when they could not see their families in person throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

In a blog post, Dr Nnenna Osuji spoke frankly about the challenges, stating that there will be many “wounded” people moving forward.

She said it was not just front line staff who witnessed “significant traumas,” but that this was faced by many administrators, cleaners, porters and catering staff.

The difficulty of the situation is laid bare in an anecdote of a young mother-of-three who lost her battle to Covid-19.

Dr Osuji wrote: “I remember it because there were moments of hope, then despair, then hope again, and eventual utter despair.

“We did our best to let the family embrace ‘virtually’ when, for understandable reasons, they could not be face-to-face.

“The scenario reduced me to tears and I found myself grieving for the family I never met, and their lives are forever changed.

“Even writing about this just now brings fresh tears. We will all have different versions of these tales which we harbour.

“Covid exposed us to illness and death at a scale and pace we have never seen and did not allow us the time to replenish.”

Dr Osuji

And speaking as the daughter of a Nigerian chief, Dr Osuji wrote about the murder of George Floyd which has sparked protests across the globe.

She said: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequalities that exist in Britain with the BAME (black and minority ethnic) communities being disproportionately affected by the virus.”

She also told of being scared for her own family, including her 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son.

Dr Osuji added: “Covid has shone a spotlight on inequality in a way that should galvanise meaningful action.

“Risk factors that have been shown to have an impact include age, gender, deprivation, obesity, diabetes, recent haematology malignancy diagnosis, organ transplant and ethnicity.

“We know that if this were a matter of genetics only, we should be seeing a very different picture of Covid internationally.

“Access to housing, to good nutrition, to education, to employment, to wealth are all factors that impact our health and well-being. We see this in our own Croydon population.”

She finished by saying that it is a cycle that needs to be broken, and everyone must work to reduce inequalities and improve health in Croydon.

The latest figures show 301 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died at Croydon University Hospital.

The hospital was one of the worst hit in London, but things are now easing up, with fewer coronavirus patients in intensive care, and from Monday visitors were allowed back on the wards, with some restrictions in place.

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