Frontline paediatric doctor observed ‘surreal’ Ramadan during lockdown

Mother of two and paediatric registrar Kiran Rahim is one of many health care workers battling coronavirus on the front line.

In the latest of a series of profiles looking at workers on the front line, Dr Rahim, who works at Homerton University Hospital, tells the PA news agency what life is like:

What does your working day look at the moment during the coronavirus crisis?

“Half of my time is spent between paediatric A&E and (the) paediatric ward, and that will be seeing all the emergencies that come in, all the resuscitations and looking after patients with potential Covid-19/coronavirus and looking after them on the ward.

“And then the other half I have been redeployed, so what would have been my education time is now my ITU time, so I have been redeployed to (the) intensive care unit where I do either a long morning shift or a late afternoon to evening shift, and that’s essentially where I am a nursing assistant.

“I facilitate patient care so helping with their hygiene, for example, rolling them, dealing with any pressure sores, preparing any IV medication.

“It’s been a steep learning curve because these are things normally doctors don’t do and haven’t historically done in the UK, but that’s what is needed at the moment because of the complex medications patients are on.”

Dr Kiran Rahim is working on the front line (Dr Kiran Rahim)

What is working on the front line like?

“It’s difficult, I think there are days where you just don’t know how you’re going to pick yourself up.

“I think now it’s much better but definitely when we were going through the peak it just felt like we were knocking at death’s door every single day.

“And it’s hard because you look after these patients for 12/13 hours, you read their notes, you get an idea of what kind of person they were outside of work, you speak to their family members and you know, they will often say ‘he/she is so jovial at home, and this is the last person this should happen to, and I’ve never seen him like this’, and it’s all very emotional.

“So it’s not easy, to say the least.”

You have been observing Ramadan during lockdown, how has that been?

“I think it’s been a very surreal experience for many of us.

“This is traditionally a time where we are surrounded by members of the community, we partake in religious or spiritual experiences, we gather and have feasts with one another and it’s a time for giving and going to other people’s homes.

“This year it is in isolation, but there is a silver lining to that – I have probably had the first Ramadan in my professional career where both my husband and I have been home in the evenings and we’ve had this time to reflect together and do things that we wouldn’t normally have done because of our working schedules, so it’s been interesting.

“And I think many people have made extra effort in terms of like decorating the house and making sure that they are reaching out to neighbours. For example, my neighbours, even my non-Muslim neighbours, have sent me really wonderful things in Ramadan, like dates and cakes and stuff, and it’s been very sweet.”

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Its been almost one week since the PM introduced the 'new but old' measures about how we should go about life., Understandably its left many of us confused and angry at the lack of clarity, gorward vision and direction. I did a Q&A and there a few recurrent themes about when and if there will be a 2nd peak, should we send kids back to school and ending Lockdown . Second Peak Evidence from previous pandemics shows that often occur in multiple waves with second worse than the first with no vaccine, no widespread immunity there is very real risk of disease re-emeging. In Singapore, Germany and China where they had excellent contact tracing, unlike the UK there is evidence of a re-emergence R number is not static and fluctuates depending on social behaviours etc. Evidence from this week since the announcement suggests people have relaxed and are not abiding by social distancing rules. This could cause R to go above 1 and risk a very real 2nd peak Hospitals are preparing for the 2nd peak. We envisage it hitting us in June BAME are still more adversely affected and should weight up their health risks before returning to work . Schools Children do need to go back to school, but we MUST do this in a way that balances risk to them and to others. In England this seems like a political decision whereas other parts of the UK continue to ask children to stay at home Children that are shielding should CONTINUE TO DO SO Children that have healthcare issues should discuss their concerns with their childs team We must weigh up the risk to teachers, TAs and other educational staff too We must ensures schools are able to adhere to social distancing and hand hygiene guidance . Ending Lockdown Before we can end lockdown we need: excellent contact tracing so we can identify asymptomatic positive individuals better understanding of immunity associated with virus Number of new cases and daily deaths to be MUCH LOWER than they currently are . Please Stay home and SAVE LIVES

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Every Thursday we have Clap For Carers and a lot is being done in support of the NHS. What is it like seeing all that support out there?

“It’s euphoric and I think the public’s goodwill is definitely palpable in those claps.

“And certainly when I stand outside my street my neighbours will often turn to me and clap and I find that quite overwhelming, but at the same time it is really endearing.

“I do find it hard watching politicians that have quite systematically destroyed the NHS over the 10 years now come out to clap for our carers when they haven’t really, in my personal opinion, provided adequate support for our carers, particularly in terms of PPE, particularly in terms of testing, particularly in terms of providing support for us.”

Why did you become a doctor?

“I was born with a cleft lip which means from a very young age I’ve been in paediatric wards, and I’ve been exposed to doctors and they just made me feel like I could achieve anything despite the way I looked, which, when you are a young girl growing up, you worry about what you’re going to do and stuff.

“I’ve always felt that need to help and I’ve had a passion for science and for caring, and this is a profession that I can beautifully amalgamate those two things, and really work with people.”

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