What saving lives looks like: Snapshots into the daily routine of Serdang Hospital’s ICU staff

The full bed capacity in the Hospital Serdang's ICU can be seen when stepping into the ward. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
The full bed capacity in the Hospital Serdang's ICU can be seen when stepping into the ward. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — More than a year into the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, things have not abated in Malaysia. 

In fact, daily cases remain high with Malaysians experiencing yet another round of movement control order. 

Malay Mail photographer Shafwan Zaidon had the opportunity recently to visit the Serdang Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) to chronicle the tough job that frontliners and medical staff have to carry out every single day in saving Covid-19 positive patients. 

Here are some of his observations: 

“The first time I stepped into the ICU, I felt both excited and nervous. 

The excitement was because such an opportunity to visit an ICU hospital ward does not come by easily.

Nervousness because I would be “seeing” what the virus could do to a human body. 

Healthcare workers perform the intubation procedure on a Covid-19 patient in Hospital Serdang’s ICU. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Healthcare workers perform the intubation procedure on a Covid-19 patient in Hospital Serdang’s ICU. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

The visit was to document the real situation of what is going on at the Serdang Hospital ICU unit. 

My instincts told me that the visuals that I took had to be those that could reach out and create a sense of awareness among Malaysians on how deadly the virus could be. 

Upon the ICU doors opening, I could see what was going on in there and the feeling of nervousness and excitement disappeared. 

Instead, I felt immense sadness. 

Health workers perform daily routines on Covid-19 patients who are intubated such as taking blood, administering medication and giving food. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health workers perform daily routines on Covid-19 patients who are intubated such as taking blood, administering medication and giving food. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

All the beds were occupied by patients who had wires and machines attached to their bodies. 

And I could hear the sound of the ventilators beeping throughout the ward. 

I was accompanied by Hamdi, a staff member of the ICU’s infection control unit. 

He explained what was the daily routine of the healthcare staff. Among them was the intubating of a patient in order to place the breathing apparatus into the trachea. 

Healthcare workers perform the intubation procedure on a Covid-19 patient in Hospital Serdang’s ICU. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Healthcare workers perform the intubation procedure on a Covid-19 patient in Hospital Serdang’s ICU. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

The patient needs to be sedated before the procedure. 

I also witnessed how prone ventilation was carried out. 

This is carried out as a rescue strategy to increase the oxygenation levels caused by hypoxemia (when oxygen levels are lower than normal). 

In the four hours that I was there, I was just amazed at how calm the medical staff were as they went about saving lives. 

Health workers wearing PPE perform routine procedures on Covid-19 patients who have recovered and are not intubated in the ICU at Serdang Hospital. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health workers wearing PPE perform routine procedures on Covid-19 patients who have recovered and are not intubated in the ICU at Serdang Hospital. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

It is unbelievable that after such a long time, they are still carrying out their duties to the best of their abilities.

I left still feeling sad: Would the patients there survive? 

I also left with a sense of thankfulness that none of my family members or friends have been affected by this deadly virus. 

I am also hoping that things will get better for Malaysia. Soon.” 

Cleaning workers carry out their cleaning work around the bed in the ICU ward when a patient has died or is transferred to another Covid-19 ward after recovery. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Cleaning workers carry out their cleaning work around the bed in the ICU ward when a patient has died or is transferred to another Covid-19 ward after recovery. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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