A doctor who has experienced the devastation of Covid at first hand hopes the pandemic will bring the world closer.
Dr Habiba Hajallie, known as Dr Bee patients and colleagues at the ellenor hospice in Gravesend, said: “I hope the world will become a kinder place now and that people will be kinder to each other. All humans are susceptible to Covid. It doesn’t matter about race, gender, sexuality, religion, or wealth. Covid is blind to all of this, and it would be a better world if we all became blind to it too.”
Dr Bee, one of five doctors at the hospice, wants everyone to know that doctors are just ordinary people with a job to do.
She said: “We also have families and lives outside of our work, so we do feel for our patients, and we often cry with them. People sometimes have the view that doctors are unapproachable, this is not the case - I’m laid back and I have an open heart. I don’t think people always realise we are just humans, and this is our job.”
Dr Bee has certainly experienced the trauma of Covid, watched patients die and consoled grief-stricken family members. During the thick of the pandemic last year, she was working at an acute hospital trust on a Covid ward. Every night shattered after a long shift, she returned alone to an empty hotel room and went for weeks without seeing her partner Adam and three-year-old daughter Isabella.
Life at ellenor
With a background in palliative and elderly care and having worked as a registrar, Dr Bee came to ellenor in 2018 for a year. She then spent a year at the hospital before returning to the hospice in Gravesend this June.
She said: “Things have changed at the hospice since I worked here in 2018. To protect patient and staff visiting is restricted to four named people able to visit each patient, but only two at a time – whereas in the past ellenor was very much an open house. Now we can only relax those restrictions when someone is at the end of their life.
“It’s so difficult putting restrictions on family members whose loved ones are dying."
"We must protect other patients, their families, and the staff. There are a lot of vulnerable people in a hospice environment."
“Sadly, Covid death rates in the UK are rising, and we have a variety of new and unknown variants. I think the hospice restrictions will have to stay in place at least until after the winter period.”
Thankfully Dr Bee’s experience in an acute hospital setting has prepared her for the road ahead.
She said: “My partner was working from home being supported by my mum who had moved in to help care for our daughter. We made the decision that I needed to stay in a hotel as we didn’t know how bad things were and I couldn’t risk Isabella or Adam becoming unwell. I was out of the house for 38 weeks and just used to meet with my daughter sometimes in the garden and talk to her.
“At work, we were dealing with very sick Covid patients, and the PPE just wasn’t there in the early days. I had to decide: Do I not work, or do I go to work and hope I will be OK? I couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing. For me it has always been important to raise your child to be a good person and give something to the community. I want her to be proud of me and I hope that when she is older, she will understand why mummy was away.”