In East Java, ventilators keep patients breathing as they fight COVID-19
Ventilators are helping health workers treat an ever-increasing number of COVID-19 patients at RSUD Iskak Tulungagung
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the isolation and intensive care unit (ICU) at RSUD (Regional General Hospital) Iskak Tulungagung in East Java has seen a steady surge in COVID-19 cases. While the hospital has always been full, more beds and health workers have been added to treat the ever-increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
Edi Purnanto has been a nurse at the hospital for nine years but only recently began working with COVID-19 patients. Currently, every COVID-19 patient in the ICU is under his care. Edi, whose wife also works at the hospital as a nurse, admits they were both initially afraid that they could bring the virus home to their family. They have also dealt with stigma in their community, with some neighbours shunning and speaking ill of them. But despite these issues, Edi and his wife remain committed to their work.
“We’re just doing our jobs,” he said. “That’s the task we have, so we’re carrying it out.”
During his three-hour shifts at the ICU, Edi and his colleagues observe their patients at their bedside. If a patient’s oxygen levels drop, they don their personal protective equipment, or PPE, and rush to provide urgent care. Edi notes that it can be challenging to put their PPE back on to treat a patient just after they removed it.
After receiving an additional ventilator with support from the Asian Development Bank and UNICEF, Edi says he can provide more effective treatment for his patients. Moreover, as part of the ventilator delivery process, the training he received from the manufacturer has also enabled him to operate the equipment immediately after the hospital received it.
“It has been very useful,” he said. “The main problem for COVID-19 patients is respiratory. So, they are all on ventilators.”
He recalls one of his patients, a 38-year-old woman who tested positive for COVID-19 and had no history of breathing problems. Shortly after arriving in the ICU, her oxygen saturation levels dropped precipitously, and she was left gasping for air. They immediately put her on a ventilator and were able to increase her oxygen saturation levels. After maintaining the treatment for several days, they could take her off the ventilator and move her to a non-intensive isolation room, where she spent several days before eventually testing negative for the virus.
“With the ventilator, the patients can now receive 100% of the oxygen they need,” he said.
UNICEF Indonesia wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Asian Development Bank.