Imaging is essential in assessing the severity and progression of Covid-19 and radiographers play a vital role in the management and treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Radiographers are on the frontline, requiring frequent contact with confirmed positive patients or suspected infected patients presenting with respiratory symptoms, and during the process of examination they are more exposed to infected persons.
This has naturally heightened the radiographers’ anxiety levels, especially with information and control strategies regularly changing as new information on the virus becomes known.
The radiographers from one of the largest teaching hospitals in Malaysia are also facing up to the challenges of the global pandemic. In the Department of Biomedical Imaging, University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, a Covid-19 Task Force team was formed in the wake of the pandemic to look into new challenges and changes in the service delivery.
In terms of preparing our staff to face this situation, changes were made to work processes, management of human resources (divided into teams in anticipation of accidental exposures to Covid-19 patients and the need to undergo quarantine processes, if necessary) and handling of imaging equipment (prior preparation and post-examination decontamination process).
Simulation sessions on the donning and doffing of PPE and the handling of Covid-19 patients were conducted, reminders on hand hygiene disseminated and preparedness for crisis management was organised, should the need arise.
During the first wave of the pandemic, in the true spirit of #KitaJagaKita*, many radiographers were innovative in preparing DIY PPE from non-woven fabric and diligently taking turns to apply their sewing skills.
Image right: radiographers making clinical PPE.
In addition, self-made face shields were assembled from easily reproducible items such as strings, sponges and clear plastic sheaths, to ensure sufficient stock was available to carry out their duties safely and confidently during these precarious times.
In the early phase of the pandemic, there were marked increases in requests for mobile radiography examinations at designated Covid-19 wards and emergency areas to avoid transmission during patient transfers to the imaging department. As part of the new workflow, the radiographers would decontaminate the mobile equipment and shower after seeing the Covid-19 patients.
The pandemic is evolving continuously. What is certain is that imaging will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting clinical decision-making. Therefore, having a positive mindset is important. Radiographers, as frontline staff, should be familiar with the key challenges related to imaging patients with Covid-19. This is essential so that they can fulfil their role in ensuring patient safety, patient care and optimise image quality as a tool for more accurate diagnosis.
Most importantly, radiographers should be aware of ways to keep themselves safe and well during this unprecedented situation by adhering to the new normals of social distancing, hand hygiene, using the right PPE and ensuring all their workspaces are adequately decontaminated to minimise the risk of further infection.
In summary, there are three key learnings during this Covid-19 pandemic: It’s important to work as a team, essential to have a positive mindset and together, with great teamwork and a positive mindset, anything is possible!
With that, we would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all those who have donated essential items during this challenging time. Thank you very much! Your generosity and kindness are much appreciated. The fight against Covid-19 is not over yet. We can win this together! Here in the Department of Biomedical Imaging, our journey continues!
Image right: accepting community donations.
Ms Ravi Chanthriga Eturajulu, Radiographer Officer, Department of Biomedical Imaging, University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Acknowledgements to: Ms Kathy Wui Ai Leng, Miss Siti Nur Aisyah Zolkaplie, Mr Mohd Zukhairi Che Romly, Ms Lilian Yap Poh Poh, Mr Mohd Kamil Mohamad Fabell, the Covid-19 Task Force Team and all staff of the Department of Biomedical Imaging.
*#KitaJagaKita is a Malaysian 'one-stop shop' launched in response to Covid-19, matching people who want to help with people who need help via various civil society initiatives.
Image caption: training nurses in Covid-19 procedures.