‘People’s response to COVID-19 in UAE reminds me of British unity in World War II,’ says doctor

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A senior British doctor who is in the UAE’s frontline battle against COVID-19 said the pandemic reinforced his faith in humanity, despite the despair and challenges it unfolded.

“Inside and outside the hospitals across the UAE, it is amazing to see everyone pulling together, irrespective of one’s nationality, class or creed, to fight the pandemic,” said Dr. Malcom D. Podmore, Consultant orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon at Al Ain Hospital in Al Ain, which is under Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA.

“This reminds me of British people forming a united front in the Second World War. It demonstrates how a crisis brings out the best in human beings.”

The doctor, who has set aside his regular orthopaedic practice since March to assist his colleagues treating COVID-19 patients, was sharing his new experiences with Emirates News Agency, WAM.

“In our hospital, not only the medical staff such as nurses and doctors, but all others, including para-medics, cleaners, kitchen workers and security personnel, support each other to give extra time and efforts,” he explained.

Sharing an example, he said that one day he forgot [being preoccupied] to bring his food to the hospital. “I was surprised to find that somebody had already ordered food for me. There are other people thinking about you. Likewise, everyone pays attention to others.”

Similarly, outside the hospitals, the government agencies, charities and community groups are offering food and other support to the needy. “I can see that the entire nation is together in this mission.”

This is the most challenging situation in his 28-year long career. “But it also the most hopeful situation as well because human beings are rising to the occasion and doing their best.”

The pandemic has also reinforced his belief in having accurate and open communication with the family members of the critically ill patients.

“I always believed in it [communication], when I speak to some patients’ relatives, I understand their grief and fear. They appreciate my effort to explain the medical terms of the condition in a simple language. This gave me a chance to sit back and think about how the situation affects the families of the patients. I feel that, we as doctors, have to always readjust ourselves and find time to talk to the families of the patients,” Dr. Podmore explained.

About the role of medical infrastructure to deal with the pandemic, he said, the supply chain of medication, personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff, and life-support systems such as ventilators is very crucial.

“In the UAE, that supply chain was intact and efficient,” the doctor said, pointing out that even in many developed countries there was a shortage of supply. “It was an extremely good effort on the part of everyone involved.”

A UAE resident for more than two years, it is his first time living in a Middle Eastern county. When he visited the UAE for his job interview, it was his first visit to the region.

“It is the first time I have lived in a Muslim country. It is very interesting to see how different religions and cultures closely interact here,” Dr. Podmore added.

“As I did not know much about Islam, I have read a lot to understand the religion. The most important thing I experienced here is tolerance; there is no animosity among religions here. My family also like the place,” he said.

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