Honouring our frontline medical workers

Metrina Daniels is a nurse attached to the Critical Care Cardiac Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)

International Nurses Day 2020

By Wendella Davidson

FROM an early age, growing up in the remote community of Kimbia, located some miles up the Berbice River, Metrina Daniels, a nurse attached to the Critical Care Cardiac Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) recalled always displaying a caring nature.
“I remember one of my brothers getting a deep wound on his foot one day and there I was playing a nurse and cleaning the blood and making a bandage from old clothing to strap the wound. And, every day I would make it my duty to clean and dress the wound until it was healed,” she recalled during an interview with the Pepperpot Magazine.

Metrina Daniels is a nurse attached to the Critical Care Cardiac Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)

Born in Georgetown as the only child from a union between Esme David and Melvern Pollydore, Daniels said she inherited other siblings from both of her parents who had prior relationships. Her parents were also members of the Guyana National Service (GNS) and stationed at Kimbia.

Daniels’ first step towards becoming a nurse was made when she undertook a Grade Three Vocational Skills Training Programme. Upon completion, she was sent to the GNS and after about a year at the para-military organisation, she pursued a Grade Three Medical Course with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), upon the recommendation of the GNS. When the course was completed Daniels said she returned to the GNS and was posted to Kuru Kuru, to function as a medic.

Maybe realising her zest to become more qualified, Daniels said the GNS sponsored her to undertake a two-year Nursing Assistant Programme at the Georgetown School of Nursing. The programme ran from 1997 to 1999 and when she graduated Daniels returned to the Kuru Kuru where she worked for five years.

By then, having become fully engrossed with being a nurse, she said in 2004 she applied to join the staff at the George Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), with the intention of participating in the Registered Nursing Assistant Programme at the Georgetown School of Nursing, towards becoming a staff nurse.

Fortunately, she received sponsorship from the GPHC for the entire programme which ran from 2005 to 2009 and after graduation was posted to the Female Medical Department on rotation that saw her working in most of the departments at the hospital, with the exception of the maternity unit.

Even though Daniels said she liked being a nurse, it was an approximately 18-month stint at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit and the experience she garnered while there that motivated her into being trained as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN). A CCRN, she explained, is a registered nurse who is trained to work in intensive care areas such as the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the theatre, Recovery Unit and Accident and Emergency.

Daniels recalled that in 2014, she successfully undertook the training qualifying one year later as a Critical Care Registered Nurse. She also recalled part of the course saw her volunteering at the Baby Heart Programme which offers surgeries to babies. She also participated in training in Cardio Intensive Care to be specialised to work in a Cardiac Intensive Unit.

To further satisfy her yearning for further education in the field of nursing, Daniels enrolled at the University of Guyana in 2017, where she read for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and completed in 2019.

With the COVID-19 pandemic that has been crippling nations, Nurse Daniels said like any human being, at times she is sometimes overcome with fear, just simply knowing the risk as her job entails her dealing with underlying conditions in the Critical Intensive Care Unit (CICU) with cardiac being primary. “The Coronavirus is known to mostly attack at-risk persons, hence my main concern is to try to prevent patients from contracting the virus,” she said. “It is during this period that someone really knows if they are really cut out for nursing as a career. It is like putting your shoulder to the wheel and remembering the persons who would need your care and [also] remembering why you took The Nightingale pledge: a Hippocratic Oath for nurses.”

To this end, the CCRN says she undertakes a lot of patient and family teaching, to instill in patients the use of medications and maintain a constant visit with the clinic. In addition, patients with such underlying conditions, as well as their families, should be made aware of the need to maintain social distancing and a healthy diet. Relatives, on the other hand, need to know the importance of adhering to the COVID-19 measures, since any risky behaviours can be to the detriment of not only an at-risk patient in the home but the entire household.

Daniels, 40, who is a wife and mother of three children, said “ It is sometimes tough having to balance duties at home and work, since we work a shift system, with night duties included. I am, however, grateful that I have a supportive and understanding husband and children. My eldest daughter plays a vital role in supervising and caring for her siblings when we are not around. A lot of times, I plan my off duties so as to be able to take part in family activities.”

Questioned about any scary moment on the job, when she relied on her instincts and will always remember, Daniels recalled an incident while working in the Triage Area of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit. The unit was very busy, as the doctors were attending to an emergency. However, upon observing the patients, she noticed a mother holding a baby boy in her hands. She said as she took a closer look she realised that the child looked pale, with the eyes kind of sunken.

The nurse said she immediately abandoned all protocol and approached one of the doctors to look at the child. And, although she was given a promise, she said she couldn’t wait, went back outside and returned with the mother and child in tow. It happened that her instinct was right, as the doctor relayed to her that the child’s life was saved “in the nick of time”.

And according to Daniels,to this day, whenever the woman sees her, she would tell her friends that Daniels saved her son’s life.
Daniels is not yet ready to put away her textbooks, as she disclosed her desire to undertake a midwifery programme. In about five to 10 years she foresees herself holding the position of a Ward Sister.

“Think big, aim for the sky in whatever career you decide on. Work hard as hard work brings with it success; be true to oneself and put your belief in God, you must succeed,” she said is her mantra.
International Nurses Day is celebrated every year on May 12 focusing on the value of nurses to the people of the world.