Robert Batsantos Custodio, a triage nurse, and his wife had sent their children to live with relatives.
Doctors and nurses have risked their health and lives in treating Covid-19 patients and containing the pandemic. On World Humanitarian Day, which this year honours the frontliners, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) medics have stressed that the fight is far from over and urged residents to commit to all precautionary measures.
These medics shared how they stayed away from their families so residents can stay with theirs.
Dr Faisal Muhammad Arshad, a specialist family physician, acknowledged the constant motivation from the UAE leadership and SEHA as crucial factors in dealing with the crisis.
“I was very moved by the UAE leadership’s gratitude and recognition of our efforts, so I felt confident doing my job as per the highest standards.”
Dr Arshad has served at the Abu Dhabi International Airport and National Screening Centre in Zayed Sports City. He used to live away from his dear ones and take precautions after completing each shift. “They (family) were very worried about me, but with my wife’s support, I was able to reassure our children, relatives and friends.”
‘Some friends stayed away from me’
But it took some time for Dr Arshad to allay the fears of his friends. “When I returned to my family and started meeting friends, some people made me feel isolated from the community by treating me differently – due to the nature of my job on the frontline.”
Looking back, Dr Arshad noted that though wearing the personal protective equipment took a huge toll on him mentally and physically, he, like other frontliners, was committed to saving lives.
“At the National Screening Centre, I treated a critically ill patient who reported breathing problems. When he began to recover, he expressed his gratitude and treated us like his family. It made me feel very emotional and gave me a heightened sense of responsibility.”
Royal recognitions and support
Amid all this, Dr Arshad had moments that he will cherish forever. “His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited the Zayed Sports City facility and thanked us personally one by one for our efforts. I also received messages from the Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, and the UAE’s leadership showing solidarity, appreciation and support for my role on the frontline.”
Couple fights pandemic together
Robert Batsantos Custodio, a triage nurse, and his wife had sent their children to live with relatives. “As parents, we made the difficult decision to send our children to live with my sister for the duration of our time fighting the pandemic,” Custodio said.
For the experienced nurse, serving at the Tawasul Facility, Umm Al Quwain drive-through centre and National Screening Centre – Musaffah was a new frontier.
“I felt a host of emotions that were totally new to me. Through hope and prayers, I was able to overcome the challenges. The thoughts of my family kept me optimistic, knowing we will reunite once again.”
He recollected many incidents of sharing happy and anxious moments with patients, which are now etched in his memories.
“The most memorable moments were when we had celebratory ceremonies for each of the recovered patients, especially watching their emotional reactions. In my line of work, I am used to seeing life and death. However, during this pandemic, my relationship with patients grew stronger and I witnessed their reliance on us, leaning on us for emotional and mental support. These moments truly moved me and have changed my perspective about my role.”
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