Nurses assigned in Tacloban and other cities and provinces hit by the massive typhoon Yolanda face overwhelming stress and fatigue not only with the numerous injured civilians but also the babies that need to be delivered.
Baby Kyrie Boniface is just one of the hundreds of newborns in the over-crowded and under-equipped hospitals in and around Tacloban. Because there are limited delivery beds available, the exhausted nurses instruct his mother to lie in a bed mattress right on the floor, while her cousin watches over her. At 4 AM, he is delivered by the nurses who are working in 24 hour shifts. His 21-year old mother Emily said in tears that she is very happy despite the difficult circumstances she and her baby have faced all throughout the process of delivery.
However, the cavalry of both the nurses and Kyrie’s family is not yet over. The attending physician said Kyrie is born seven weeks earlier than expected, so he is considered a pre-mature baby. Due to this condition, Kyrie needs to be placed in an incubator. The problem is, there’s not a single functional incubator in the hospital. Applying their critical thinking skills, the nurses wrap baby Kyrie in a safe plastic to provide artificial thermoregulation to the newborn.
Aside from the need for thermoregulation, baby Kyrie has to received antibiotics due to the high possibility of infection, according to Jerbies Lames, one of the nurses who take care of Kyrie and the other newborns. Also, the need for oxygen is apparent in the newborn babies, including Kyrie himself. Although he can actually breathe for himself, Kyrie is a pre-mature baby who needs a functional oxygen unit. Lames says that they “borrow them [the oxygen cylinders] from other wards, but they need them also.”
Lames is one of the four assigned nurses in the neonatal ward of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center. Tired and exhausted, Lames and the other nurses of the hospital are still able to cater patients with calmness and professionalism in mind and action. Despite the thin resources in the hospital, their critical thinking skills and devotion to patients are evident as they work on their 24-hour shifts.
The hospital building itself is intact, but not big enough to accommodate more patients. “But we are the only hospital accepting patients, so it makes it difficult to anticipate how long it will last,” Lames says.
Back in the neonatal ward, breastfeeding mothers are seen lying on the bare mattresses on the floor while taking care of their babies who sleep soundly despite the unbecoming circumstances.
There are volunteer nurses in the hospital, but not enough to cater to every physical need of all patients. “We are encouraging the patients to breastfeed,” says Nurse Lames to a Spanish volunteer nurse. “Some of the first-time mothers needed a bit of help with proper positioning and attachment.”