The final fight against Covid-19 at FV Hospital: Unforgettable moments

The medical team of FV Hospital will never forget the toughest days of the fourth Covid-19 wave.

Looking back at the photos of the battles waged at FV, it is even easier to appreciate the dedication of brave people who fought them.

At the end of June 2021, private hospitals had not yet been approved to receive and treat Covid-19 patients. However, FV’s Emergency Department remained open and patients flocked in. The line of people queueing for care extended from the hospital door to the Emergency Department, down the corridor to the parking lot and into temporary tents, which had been erected to accommodate the overspill of patients.

FV Hospital’s A&E Department was overloaded during June and July 2021.

By early July 2021, the Board of Directors of FV Hospital decided to “split” the hospital so that it could treat both Covid-19 patients and receive regular patients, such as mothers who were about to deliver their babies and weren’t infected with Covid-19. FV’s Covid-19 Treatment Department was quickly established, and Dr Ho Minh Tuan, Head of Cardiology, volunteered to take on the additional responsibility of Department Head.

Dr Ho Minh Tuan - Head of COVID-19 department was discussing about a case

As Head of Cardiology, Dr Ho Minh Tuan (left) volunteered to concurrently take on a new role as Head of the Covid-19 Treatment Department.

The Covid-19 Treatment Department initially had only four rooms, then quickly increased to nearly 100 beds. However, every time the hospital opened more rooms, that room was immediately filled with patients. The difficult decision for doctors was who to choose to treat first. Many times, doctors witnessed patients die in an ambulance while waiting to be examined.

Patients are treated for Covid-19 at a temporary tent area.

In the intensive care unit (ICU), the atmosphere was always very tense because the decisions of doctors directly translated to every patient’s survival. Dr Nguyen Thi Lam Giang, Former Head of Anaesthesiology at FV Hospital, said that in many situations, doctors were uncertain who to transfer to ICU first. For those who work tirelessly to save lives, these mortifying decisions were a source of anguish once the ‘war’ was over.

Doctors care for patients at the Covid-19 Treatment Department.

In a short time, FV invested heavily in both human and financial resources, purchasing equipment and hiring construction teams to work, day and night, to create extra spaces to allow staff to admit more Covid-19 patients. The motivation for the medical team and the entire FV staff was to “try not to refuse any patients” as directed by Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon, FV’s CEO.

FV Hospital devoted all resources to equip facilities to help treat patients

The hospital’s leadership mobilised human resources from various departments and called for more doctors to voluntarily join the Covid-19 Treatment Department at FV. Everyone at FV worked 24/7 and learned a huge amount of knowledge from the international guidelines of the UK, the US, the EU and Vietnam’s Ministry of Health.

The staff of the Covid-19 Treatment Department was mobilised from many different departments in the hospital. 

Understanding that patients at FV at that time did not have their relatives by their side for support, the team of doctors and nurses and nurse-aides worked overtime or skipped sleep to be with their patients. As they overcame fear, stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed, the greatest concern of these brave people was “whether something bad would happened to our patients while they we were sleeping.”

FV’s medical staff was always ready to stand by their patients, day and night.

Despite being overworked and under slept, every day the nursing team devoted time to help patients video call their families. This not only helped their relatives feel reassured regarding their loved ones’ situation, but this also put patients in a more positive mindset–a form of psychological “medicine” that gave them the strength to recover more quickly.

A Covid-19 patient is helped by a nurse to contact family members via video call

By the end of August 2021, the tide had turned. Many elderly patients with underlying diseases had come to FV with severe Covid-19 symptoms and their family members had little hope that they would recover. However, encouraged by the medical team’s ‘never give up’ mantra, they were able to overcome their illness. Every patient’s smile on the day of discharge was hugely rewarding for FV’s frontline medical staff.

A daughter is happy to see her 80-year-old mother recovered after 20 days’ fighting Covid-19

Following the call of the Vietnam Government and the Health Department of Ho Chi Minh City, FV Hospital joined the community vaccination campaign to fight the spread of Covid-19, contributing to quickly bringing normalcy back to the city. In total, FV administered more than 100,000 injections to community members.

The medical staff of FV Hospital participated in the community vaccination campaign.

Medical staff after vaccination day in the community, returning home by ambulance.

These impressive numbers largely reflect the efforts of doctors and medical staff at FV Hospital during the fight against Covid-19.

French photographer Pier Laurenza.

In the last days of July 2021, after having received two jabs of the Covid-19 vaccine, French photographer Pier Laurenza asked FV to let him stay in the hospital to silently record these historical moments for the FV team. He captured nearly 100 photos displayed as part of the photo exhibition “Memorable Moments during Covid-19 at FV”

Dr Jean-Marcel Guillon, FV CEO, shares his comments

Fire proves gold, and adversity proves people. FV’s CEO Dr Jean Marcel Guillon acknowledged the dedication of the medical team during the two turbulent years of the Covid-19 pandemic, affirming their bravery, resilience and tenacity formed a foundation to further strengthen FV.

In December 2022, FV Hospital posted the photo exhibition “Memorable Moments during Covid-19 at FV” in the lobby to honour the dedication of those who overcame difficulties together to restore the hospital to normal.

FV staff endured the pandemic bravely and wholeheartedly for their community. The exhibition displayed at the hospital campus includes compelling moments captured by the lens of French photographer Pier Laurenza, formerly a Covid-19 patient at FV.

This was an unprecedented moment in FV’s nearly 20-year history, and this documentary series commemorates the pandemic in Vietnam, and the rest of the world.

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