Alison Harris, an Operating Department Practitioner at a regional hospital in England, currently works solely on the COVID wards, focusing on intubating critically ill patients. This role is new for Harris — prior to the pandemic, she helped patients who were coming in for routine elective surgeries. “Looking back at the early days of it, I thought that I would run. Run away. [But] actually, as it got closer, I put on my PPE, and I stood shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues, and we walked towards it,” Harris said.
Globally, the fight against the coronavirus pandemic has depleted resources, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and put continued strain on health care workers who are on the frontlines of the crisis. Doctors and nurses are fighting for the lives of their patients, helping some make it back to their families and witnessing others succumb to their symptoms, which all takes a serious mental and physical toll.
Looking back at the early days of it, I thought that I would run. Run away.
Global Health Reporting Center’s video series “A Diary From the Frontline” spotlights the efforts of four health care workers from the U.S., the UK and Italy. Philadelphia nurse Sheena Williams finds herself at a crossroads when national protests over systemic racism and police brutality came amid calls for Americans to stay home. San Diego’s Dr. Davey Smith is balancing clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 treatment and hospital rounds. British nurse Alison Harris has seen her role shift to caring and intubating critically ill patients. And Dr. Giuliana Battagin from Italy, who tested positive for COVID-19 early on, has had to put aside her work as an infectious disease doctor to stay home and quarantine– where she spent her time documenting her family’s journey.
This series was produced through a partnership with Emma Watts of Green Bean Pictures and was published by PBS Newshour.