In the first two weeks of recording the first local COVID-19 case, patients stopped coming for care. They were afraid. The staff were also worried. We put new measures in place to make sure that we continue to provide essential women’s reproductive health services during this crisis. We open three times a week and screening starts at the gate where everyone washes their hands and gives details for potential contact tracing, just in case.
Then we have women form a queue to get their feet and handbags sanitized. Then we make sure there is social distancing in and out of the clinic as women wait to be seen. Just because this is a pandemic, it doesn’t mean that pregnant women stop needing care. Prenatal visits are more important than ever because during pregnancy a woman’s immune system is compromised. Seven of us at the Well Woman Clinic provide not just maternal healthcare, we are also still the nation’s leader in breast cancer screening and treatment.
Every month we see an average of 150 pregnant women, 100 others who come for our cancer services, and each day we open we have 20 more that come for screenings. From the moment we open to when we close our doors are full of women of all ages seeking care. Sometimes I get a short break while waiting for a patient to come in. And in those moments, I try to breathe and just decompress. Working in healthcare during the pandemic can take a toll on one’s mental health. I try to take deep breaths. I just moved to Sierra Leone from South Africa in December 2019. I was born there. My father is Sierra Leonean and my mother is from Ghana. This is my first time living and working in Sierra Leone.
Credit: Essential Stories/OSIWA
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