Take five: In the war against COVID-19, “soldiers do not fight for themselves, but they fight for someone behind.”

Date: Thursday, May 7, 2020

Lipikar Nilsamai, a nurse at BNH Hospital, volunteered to be on the front line dealing with COVID-19 patients. Photo: UN Women/Ploy Phutpheng

Lipikar Nilsamai, 40, is a nurse at BNH Hospital, a major private hospital in Bangkok with a special unit for COVID-19 cases. 

What challenges are you facing with the outbreak of COVID-19? 

In fact, I am afraid of being infected because I do not want to bring the virus back to my family. Still I decided to volunteer to be on the front line for the ARI (Acute Respiratory Infection) Clinic because I love to help people, and this is a direct way to help them.

I love to help patients get better so that I can minimize the risk of being exposed for other people in communities, including for my family.  This severe situation seems like a war to me because soldiers do not fight for themselves, but they fight for someone behind.

When patients come to see us, we are not sure whether they are infected with the virus. We take risks all the time. Nevertheless, what we need to do is to be well-prepared and well-protected. 

Do you think people are afraid of transmission from doctors and nurses?

Yes, some people are afraid of health-care workers because we are considered as “high risk” persons. On the other hand, many people admire and thank us for what we are doing because we are saving lives and helping people to recover. 

How has COVID-19 impacted your life and your work? 

I usually use my spare time to go out and travel. But right now, I need to stay home, to not spread the virus to others. Also, my parents are over 65 and I need to quarantine to protect them.

Since you are on the front line, what does your day look like now? 

It is like a blue day. As we are not able to predict the future, everyone has some concerns and from time to time it is complicated to deal with fears. Sometimes I am afraid that health-care workers will quit their jobs because they are at high risk every day. It is very tough for us. Otherwise, we are lucky enough to have all the protective equipment during work. 

How long have you been working without seeing your family? Who is taking care of your parents? 

I haven’t seen my parents for almost two months. It’s my choice not to see them because I want them to be safe. My colleague, who is in charge of collecting specimens from patients, is under quarantine. Consequently, she has to be separate from her children and it is heartbreaking for her.

Ninety per cent of the health-care workers, especially nurses, are women. In this current situation, it might be very complicated to find an alternative and to get someone to take care of our children or family members.

How do you think COVID-19 is impacting women differently?

Ninety per cent of the medical staff at BNH Hospital are women. We are nurses and work closely with high-risk patients. We collect their specimens, we take their blood. We are all passionate about our work. Still, it is quite tough during this crisis.

I think women are caregivers by nature. And I believe that women are strong enough to overcome the fears.

Lipikar Nilsamai has been a health-care provider for almost 16 years. Before joining BNH in 2010, she worked as a nurse at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Bangkok; Kho Chang International Clinic in Trat, eastern Thailand; and Royal Angkor International Hospital in Cambodia.