The fight against Covid-19 at FV Hospital – Part 4: Silent warriors in white coats

The fight against Covid-19 at FV Hospital has been a joint effort between doctors and ever member of the medical staff. Their dedicated to their work inspired patients and the wider community.

FV employees work constantly during the pandemic.

The photo exhibition “Memorable moments  during Covid-19 at FV Hospital” honours the dedication of teams who overcame every difficulty wholeheartedly and courageously for their community in 2021. Many stories and unforgettable moments have been shared in the wake of the darkest days of the pandemic.

During the months when the outbreak was most extreme, hospital directors and hundreds of medical staff did not go home, but were always on duty at the hospital.

“I only drove by my house to see my wife and children at night”

The office of Do Trong Khanh, MD, PhD, Medical Director of FV Hospital reserves a solemn place for a special picture. It is a calligraphy painting saying “Buddha Heart” written in Chinese on a lotus background. The doctor leading FV’s medical team said that this is has been his guidance and motivation throughout his life-saving career.

Do Trong Khanh, MD, PhD, Medical Director of FV Hospital.

Along with members of the board of directors and hundreds of medical staff, Dr Khanh was constantly on duty at the hospital during the fight against Covid-19. He didn’t have a decent night’s sleep for two months during the peak of the pandemic.

“After days spent away from my family, I missed my wife and children so much that I would drive home at night to see them. My face was still covered with a mask and I could only watch my wife and children sleep peacefully through the door of the room. Then I quietly returned to the hospital to continue the relentless work cycle,” recalls Dr Khanh.

In the spirit of “try not to refuse any patient,” Dr Khanh was always where he was most needed. He researched new treatment methods, motivated and closely supported all medical staff, always calling for a team of young doctors to help provide treatment at FV’s Covid-19 Department. Dr Khanh also strengthened relationships with local authorities and medical facilities to offer consultation support, and assisted many Covid-19 patients at FV to be transferred to other centres for timely treatment.

Head of the A&E Department: Solid at the head of the storm

The peak days of the pandemic were a huge challenge for Dr Trinh Van Hai, Head of FV’s A&E Department, when the Emergency team had to receive two lines of patients: one at high-risk of being infected with COVID-19, and patients who had not been exposed.

Dr Trinh Van Hai, Head of the A&E Department, FV Hospital.

Dr Hai said that the previous A&E Department was not designed to receive a large number of infectious diseases, not to mention the lack of facilities to respond to the sudden increase in patient numbers. However, when faced with severely ill Covid-19 patients who came to FV Hospital because they had not been accepted elsewhere, the Emergency team used every resource they could find to save patients.

Gradually, the entire staff of the A&E Department, under the direction of Dr Hai, adapted to their difficult conditions. Employees controlled the risk of infection while working, accepting that overcrowding was inevitable. They always prioritised the most practical solution to save a patient’s life.

“This pandemic has caused great harm to the health and lives of many people, so we always encouraged each other to try to help as many patients as possible,” says Dr Hai.

“I can’t see a patient in pain without helping”

Head of the Infectious Diseases Department Vu Truong Son, MD, MSc, experiences constant pressure from the moment Covid-19 appeared. From an specialty that ordinarily operated quite quietly, Dr Son and his team now had to be involved in almost every activity at the hospital. They offered a series of training sessions, guidance on infection prevention, thousands of phone calls giving advice and continuous support during the two years of the pandemic, and created and updated hundreds of new documents.

Dr Vu Truong Son, MD, Msc, Head of the Infectious Diseases Department 

“I can’t see a patient in pain without helping. I can’t bear to see a patient dying in front of me. That’s the motivation for every doctor to stay up working all night, then two nights, then three to four nights, without sleep. I was worried that if I tried to get some rest, patients would die,” says Dr Son.

The “captain” of the Covid-19 Treatment Department

Not long after Dr Ho Minh Tuan joined FV Hospital as Head of Cardiology, the fourth and most serious Covid-19 outbreak hit. Dr Minh Tuan accepted an additional role as Head of the Covid-19 Treatment Department at the beginning of August 2021.

Dr Ho Minh Tuan, Head of Cardiology and Head of the Covid-19 Treatment Department

Dr Tuan said that one of the difficulties of delivering Covid-19 care is to stay up to date on the latest studies, international treatment guidelines and best practices for clinical examination of patients while always wearing protective clothing. The difficulties in identifying and answering requirements of human resources for timely support was also a big challenge.

“All members of the medical staff faced the same obstacles at this time. However, we tried to work hard for the common goal of saving more patients,” Dr Tuan shares, speaking to the atmosphere at the Covid-19 Treatment Department.

Miracles gradually appeared

During those unforgettable days, a great source of encouragement for FV’s frontline team were the resilient smiles of patients as they were discharged after their journey to fight and never give up hope.

Dr Ho Minh Tuan said that many elderly patients with underlying diseases arrived with such severe Covid-19 symptoms that their relatives thought that there was no hope. However, doctors went to work to try to help every patient to win their battle with this disease.

Ms N.T.T made a spectacular recovery after nearly 20 days of fighting Covid-19. 

A typical example is the case of patient N.T.T (80 years old). She arrived at the A&E Department of FV Hospital on August 14, 2021, with symptoms of fatigue, a productive cough, shortness of breath, and a peripheral blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) fluctuating around 95 per cent. In the following days, the patient’s condition worsened. She continuously had difficulty breathing; at the peak of her illness, her SpO2 index decreased below 85 per cent. Ms T.T. switched from breathing through a mask which delivers 15 litres of oxygen a minute to a high dose nasal canula, which delivered 60 litres a minute. Doctors then transferred her to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for tracheal intubation. After nearly 20 days of treatment, Ms T recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

Mr V.V. Tin (nearly 90 years old) beat Covid-19. 

When Mr V.V. Tin was admitted to FV, tests showed that his lungs had been badly affected by the Covid-19 virus. He was treated for many underlying diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and osteoarthritis. After 11 days of treatment by doctors, Mr Tin had recovered and returned home to his happy family, much to the joy of FV doctors and nurses.

Recalling that time, Nguyen Thi Lam Giang. MD, Msc, former Head of Anaesthesiology, shared: “When we improved our regimens, FV doctors adapted to the situation with the full support of FV’s best-in-class medical equipment and we saved many lives, giving us hope that we could save many more.”

Seeing sick patients recover, accompanied by words of encouragement from doctors, nurses, and the medical staff at the Covid-19 Treatment Department, provided inspiration for others to maintain their fighting spirit, even though many SARS-CoV-2 patients were still occupying hospital beds.

FV Hospital’s photo exhibition “Memorable moments during Covid-19 at FV Hospital” opened on December 8 to honour the dedication of the FV teams who overcame every difficulty together. FV staff members were steadfast through the pandemic, bravely dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to the community.

The exhibition at the hospital campus includes intense moments captured by the lens of French photographer Pier Laurenza, who was also a Covid-19 patient at FV. After receiving a second dose of the vaccine, Pier asked to stay in the hospital, silently recording unprecedented moments in almost twenty years of FV’s history. This documentary work also reflects the hardest times of the pandemic in Vietnam and the world.

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