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COVID-19 and Me 2021 Update: Jade Callaway

Released on - 15/02/2021

COVID-19 and Me 2021 Update: Jade Callaway

COVID-19 and Me 2021 Update: Jade Callaway

My name is Jade Callaway and I am an apprentice ODP in my second year at the University of Bolton. 

Seven months ago I contacted AfPP and shared my experiences of working through the Covid-19 global pandemic. Now, seven months on I wanted to update my experiences of continuing to work & study during the pandemic.

It seems hard to believe now, but a few months ago, there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Lockdown was lifted, Eat Out to Help Out was introduced, we were able to meet with a few people and everyone began to relax a little. In my trust it was pretty much business as usual, in that all our theatres back up and running – although things were different because of Covid-19 swabs.

Then it was announced that the Covid-19 vaccine had been approved by the MHRA! I could have cried when I heard it announced on national TV.

However, since that initial glimmer of hope in the summer, the situation has deteriorated. First the tier system was introduced and then lockdown for the second time, then the third time. And this time we all have dark mornings and dark evenings to contend with. 

Wearing FFP3 masks and full PPE is now the new ‘normal’ and donning & doffing stations are everywhere I turn. One of the challenges is how to communicate when you’re wearing a respirator but we are learning to find ways to address this. Everyone is so tired all the time and you can feel the stress all around you.

New variants of COVID-19 have been detected, ICU’s are reaching capacity, surgical lists have come to a halt. At team meetings you can once again sense that staff morale is so low. Theatre staff are being redeployed to ICU and a number of theatres have been converted into ICUs to act as an overflow for the level 2 and 3 critically ill patients. Operating lists are only running for acute, trauma, obstetric and cancer patients.

One of the many challenges is that it’s not just about caring for the critically ill Covid-19 patients. It’s also about caring for patients who are still coming into hospital for surgery. Many of them are scared about being in hospital and need to be reassured that hospital is a safe place to be.

Strangely, I don’t feel as scared this time. Instead, I’m ready to fight this virus. I just keep telling myself & my colleagues ‘we’ve done it before so we can do it again’. This time we know what we’re up against and what interventions work better than others. It’s also amazing how quickly we can accommodate other departments. The adaptable support & skills the theatre team are able to provide amazes me and makes me feel so proud.

However, it isn’t easy working full time whilst studying for a degree during a global pandemic! I’m sure I’m not the only student who’s beginning to worry about their training in regard to getting the exposure required to complete the competences. Carrying out your training through these uncertain times is testing. Some days I feel positive and other days it can be quite overwhelming. 

One of the things that keeps me going is thinking that one day I’ll be able to tell students I’m mentoring the story of how I undertook my training during the pandemic. What an achievement it will be. 

Hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel will shine through soon, for all of us.

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