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Nurses on the Frontline Against the COVID-19 Pandemic: Experience from a Tertiary Referral Cancer Center
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China in late December 2019 and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. As on November 23, 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 256 million individuals globally, leading to 5 million deaths and has disrupted health care systems across the world. Patients with cancer need prioritization of care, even during a pandemic. To continue cancer care in the face of the pandemic, cancer centers needed to evolve pathways to enable early identification of those with potential infections, and their high-risk contacts, and segregate them from the other noninfected patients. This was essential to contain the infection as well as minimize the risk of exposure to patients and the staff.
Nursing staff, who have always been key frontline health care workers, have been instrumental in the COVID-19 response worldwide, often at the cost of their own physical and emotional well-being.  The Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) is a grant-in-aid institution under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India and a tertiary referral cancer hospital. Early in the pandemic, the hospital was designated by the government as a COVID-19 hospital for all patients with cancer. There is lack of data from an oncology center regarding the impact of the double burden of COVID-19 and cancer on nursing staff in the face of lockdown, manpower shortage, and personal challenges. In this article, we describe the experience of nurses at the TMH who were at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, ably supported by others such as patient navigators, clinical research staff, and administrators.
Article published online:
17 February 2022
© 2022. Indian Society of Medical and Paediatric Oncology. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
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