'Passing through the valley of the shadow of death'
University student recalls chilling feeling as three COVID-19 patients died while she was getting medical care for broken toeMonday, September 13, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
Emotional and painful. That was how 21-year-old Sheriffa Cousins described her experience while receiving medical treatment for a broken toe at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) last Wednesday night.
Cousins, who is a third-year public policy & management student at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, said earlier that day she was rushing to complete chores in her bedroom at home when she hit her toe on the base of the bed.
“I was cleaning and I wanted to get everything done in time to work out, so I was literally moving back and forth. At one point, I had some clothes on my bed and when I turned to pick them up, I heard a cracking sound and my toe started to hurt but I still didn't stop to check because I was in a hurry,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Cousins said she was too busy to realise how badly her toe was injured.
“When I walked off I almost fell because I lost my balance and then I looked down to see that my toe was pointing in another direction. I called my sister and told her that I broke my toe and then I called my parents who came home to take me to the hospital,” she said.
Cousins said she got to UHWI about 7:30 pm, she was registered and accommodated at the casualty section of the Emergency Medicine Division where a doctor confirmed that her toe was broken.
Of course, Cousins could not escape the reality of being in contact with COVID-19 patients.
Detailing her experience, she said there were a number of COVID-19 patients at the entrance of the casualty section. They were either lying down on a bench or leaning against the walls.
“It was so scary. They looked lifeless. I even saw this woman who looked so frail and she was crying. I started to cry too, and started to pray for them and I said, 'God, just protect them' because some of these people were probably practising safety protocols and got infected by somebody who had it and they didn't know,” Cousins said, noting that there were more than 20 COVID-19 patients there.
Her ordeal got worse.
She said while being treated by a doctor for her broken toe, which included doing an X-ray and getting an injection, she heard her doctor and another discussing the deaths of three COVID-19 patients.
“When we went inside to see the doctor another on the outside said: “Somebody just dead.”' I said, 'Mommy, you hear dat?' and she said, 'Yes, just pray for them',” Cousins related.
“Then I heard that two other COVID-19 patients died shortly after. It was so exhausting, so sad. I couldn't stop praying, it was as if I didn't even care about my toe anymore. I was just looking at them. Thank God for those oxygen tanks because so many of them were on oxygen out there,” she added.
She told the Observer that after receiving treatment, she had to pass the COVID-19 patients when leaving the health facility in a wheelchair at 11:34 pm.
“There was just a crowd of COVID-19 patients and you really can't blame them because there was just no space at the hospital. I told my mom it felt like I was passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Throughout the whole night to the next day I was just praying and praying. I couldn't stop thinking about them,” she said.
Noting that the short time spent at the hospital had caused her to have a different outlook on life,Cousins said: “Even though the novel coronavirus is here, I always wanted to go out and enjoy myself but still practise safety measures, but with this experience, I was thinking that I should really keep calm and stay inside for a little while, especially with the new variant [Mu] here. I should just be extra careful. It was an eye-opener for me.”
The young woman, who told the Observer that she received her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on August 24 and will be getting the second dose tomorrow, is advising others to protect themselves against the deadly virus.
“Anybody who said COVID-19 is not real, I would suggest that they go to the UHWI gate and look at the entrance of the casualty section. Look at the number of COVID-19 cases in country. The virus is literally in front of our faces! How can we say it is not real? It is real, it is dangerous and it is here,” she said.
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