In hospital, for us healthcare workers, the contact with pain is inevitable, we live step by step on Good Friday. Unfortunately, sometimes, after so many years of nursing service, routine can make us forget that Jesus is crucified in that bed. But the Lord makes us live strong experiences to awaken us from the habit, which in some cases can become anesthesia.

During Holy Week 2020, with my fellow nurses, I can say that we lived this strong experience of Jesus’ crucifixion, taking care of a COVID-19 patient who then unfortunately left us. Watching, touching and holding, were the only things possible to stay close with an active presence for this patient. To experience his loneliness, to die alone, to watch him literally “drown”, while his son knocked on the window of the room to be heard by his father, to touch and shake the patient’s hand to help him understand that in his crucifixion he was not alone, but under the cross there were nurses to support him. An experience that leaves you speechless, but that gave us the energy to welcome other COVID patients and do everything to help them alleviate the added suffering they found themselves unexpectedly experiencing. We are that Cyrenean who bears the cross to Jesus. Sometimes it is heavy for us too, especially emotionally, but we believe that at this moment this is our call.

Ours is a small rehabilitation hospital dedicated more to the elderly, located on the island of Malta. A hospital with 10 wards, including a COVID-19 ward, there are currently 4 patients, but unfortunately we are waiting for the number to increase due to the outbreak that has been created among health workers. Because of this situation, the last time our patients saw their loved ones was two months ago. Some of them have become more disoriented and some more depressed. These people have now more than ever become like our grandparents or parents and we try to do everything we can to lift their spirits. The situation on the island is under control, so far there have been more than 500 cases, at the moment there are about 90 active cases, and only 6 deaths.

Many health workers have chosen to leave their family or community for some time to be able to dedicate themselves to these patients and protect their families as well. Do we feel like heroes? Not so much, we are human beings who believe fully in their vocation. In this time of pandemic, almost every country in the world praises health workers for the courage and dedication they are showing in this difficult time, with many initiatives to say thank you. But the real thanks is the prudence that people must have because even if the situation is calming down, the risk remains high for the most vulnerable. We must remember that we are all in the same boat and it is good that we remain united to continue to say that everything will be all right.

Sr Ramona Privitelli