Today is a day that really needs to be marked and celebrated – International Nurses Day. The brave heroes have been directly in the front line of the pandemic for over year, fighting in a united front against a lethal enemy. So this week we caught up with the assistant director of nursing at the Dubrovnik general Hospital, Kristina Muhoberac, to find out exactly how the nursing staff have been handling the pandemic. To say that we felt humbled in the company of just one of these heroes would be a massive understatement.
The dedication, work effort and general positive attitude of all of the medical staff at the hospital has been nothing short of incredible. And we’re glad that we brought a smile to the face of Kristina as our meeting was the first time she’d been outside sitting for a coffee on a café terrace since August of last year.
Just how challenging has the past year been for all the nursing staff at the Dubrovnik General Hospital?
Extremely challenging, completely incomparable to any previous year. Work plans over the past period haven’t been carried out on a weekly basis but on a daily basis. Staff planning has been a constant battle. For example, in March this year we had a few departments in the hospital where nurses were positive of Covid-19, meaning that at one point we had 37 nursing staff who were ever positive for Covid or in self-isolation, or in other words 10 percent of our nursing staff. This meant that nurses from other departments had to be moved around to cover the vacancies. Like I said this pandemic had us thinking and planning on a daily basis.
In fact, you have been in some form of crisis management since the pandemic began
Yes, apart from a small break in the summer of last year when the situation stabilised, we have been in some form of crisis management the whole time. To say it has been an intensive period would be a massive understatement. This coffee outside of a café bar terrace in the sunshine with you today is the first coffee I’ve had outside since August of last year.
By far the most important thing that I have learned since the pandemic began is that nursing is a calling
What have you learned from the past period?
By far the most important thing that I have learned since the pandemic began is that nursing is a calling. Even though this is a saying that is sometimes thrown around and overused this period has shown me at first hand that it is true – nursing is a calling! You wouldn’t believe, especially last year, how many times I was close to tears at the effort and hard work our nurses put in. Their dedication was so moving, and yes I did cry more than a few times. I can remember last year in March, around that time, when we were watching photos and videos from Italy when the pandemic first came to Europe. At that time, we had already started to plan and prepare. When we saw on the TV news people struggling to breath and lined up in beds in corridors, that was so disturbing to see. At that time, we didn’t really know what we were fighting, now we do know and now it is easier.
When the first case arrived in Dubrovnik, I can remember it like it was yesterday, I received a wave of questions from our nursing staff who were all willing to come into the hospital in their free time to volunteer their time to help.
I can remember one particular case, but there were too many to mention, when one nurse called me day after day to ask if she could come back to work from her maternity leave. She told me that she had just finished breast feeding her baby and would like to come back to the hospital. She said “my uniform is ironed and I am ready to come back.” Even though I thanked her and told her that she didn’t need to stop your maternity leave to come back, she kept insisting. Then I opened her file and saw that she’d actually given birth less than two months ago, those kind of situations bring tears to your eyes. I still keep those messages today from that nurse as a reminder of the strength and positivity of our nursing staff. In total we have 404 nurse and I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every one of them. I am truly proud to be a part of the nursing staff of Dubrovnik hospital.
In total we have 404 nurse and I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every one of them
When did the pandemic really hit hard and the number of patients increase rapidly?
The beginning was in March 2020 but not that intensive. But then at the start of April last year we saw a huge rise in the number of patients, it was then that we opened a second object to cope with the cases.
Today is International Nurses Day – what message would you like to send from Dubrovnik to your colleagues across the world?
My message to my colleagues across the world would be, as I have said, that nursing is a calling. I have realised that this profession is indeed a calling. And that when people feel that call towards nursing and start the long journey of education and experience they should keep that feeling in their hearts. Don’t try to calculate too much but follow your instincts. I can only presume that if they didn’t follow their dreams that they wouldn’t be as happy as they are in nursing.
It would appear that there is some light at the end of the tunnel as far as the pandemic is concerned. What message would you give as far as vaccinations are concerned?
Vaccinations will allow us to return to a normal life, not only us as medical staff but the whole world. You have to bear in mind that along with the weight that we as nursing staff have been carrying on our shoulders since the pandemic began has also brought other medical problems, we aren’t made of steel after all.