On the Front Line:

Members of the Clinical Unit at MTA’s School of Nursing Science share their experiences and perspectives concerning the Corona pandemic

Dr. Pazit Azouri, Dean of the School of Nursing Sciences, Revital Harari, Head of the School’s Clinical Unit, and Pawani Benjamin, MTA’s Internship Coordinator, provide fascinating insights from Israeli hospitals.

At a time when nobody in Israel, and most doctors around the world, know little about the invisible Coronavirus they are fighting, and are in need of additional resources, it is the doctors and nurses that form the first line of defense in the hospitals. The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo’s nursing school works tirelessly to train the next generation of nurses, some of whom are now volunteering to help the exhausted medical teams. We spoke with the Dean of the School of Nursing Sciences, Dr. Pazit Azouri, and heard from her and her staff about the challenges in the field, and how MTA nursing students are lending a helping hand.

"It is no secret that Israel started the war against the Corona virus with massive equipment shortages," she says. "There was a lack of manpower and basic equipment like masks and ventilators. Today, we are trying to do our best with whatever we have at hand. For example, nowadays, the way departments work has changed. If one doctor is exposed to the virus, the entire team working with him must go into quarantine. That's why we work in small, permanent teams. There are doctors and nurses who only see the limited staff, so that if we need to go into quarantine, we avoid a situation that the whole department cannot function. Another small team replaces them”.

Do the nursing students today learn how to deal with situations like this?

"When MTA was still open, before work and the educational system were subjected to state-of-emergency regulations, we quickly trained our students to treat also a Covid-19 patient. Those students, who are in their last year of study were interning at hospitals. But, due to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, this experience was discontinued. However, students who wanted and chose to volunteer joined a list we compiled and submitted to the Ministry of Health, from which they choose who can assist in the field. This is significant volunteer work, as well as a valuable additional experience our students gain in the field.

Revital Harari, Head of the Clinical Unit at the School of Nursing Sciences, sheds light on another aspect of patients in these challenging Corona times: "I work in the maternity ward as a breastfeeding counselor. This is a ward that, until today, mainly houses healthy hospital visitors."

What has changed in your ward?

"There are a number of notable changes in our department. We work in smaller teams, and the shifts have gone from shorter eight-to-nine-hour ones to twelve-hour shifts. One of the things we have noticed is that the new mothers receive far fewer visitors. Today, the department limits the visit to one regular visitor over the course of several days. For example, if the husband came to visit, the mother would not be allowed into the department. We have noticed that this usually shortens the stay of mothers who give birth in the ward”.

Is there a sense that equipment is missing in your department as well?

"One of the things that stands out is the fact that they work with one face mask throughout a shift, rather than replace it when moving from patient to patient. In addition, there are far fewer bottles with hand-sanitizing liquid in departments”.

Pawani Benjamin, MTA’s internship coordinator, notes that, "Unfortunately, we had to stop most of the internships in the medical centers. The patients may pose a danger to the students, and there is also the danger that students will infect patients”. Pawani notes disturbingly that, "This is also going to affect our students’ graduation date. The Ministry's restrictions are aimed at avoiding adding dangers to the system at the moment, and that includes preferring that students stay at home. We hope the current situation will soon change so that they will be able to graduate and join a system that is always in need of, and especially now, any assistance in manpower it can get in terms of nurses and doctors”.

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