Women healthcare workers in Turkey, who have been on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus, are demanding a safe work environment.

Female medical staff has been on the ground since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Turkey on March 11, 2020.

Staff at the Ankara City Hospital shared with Anadolu Agency their role in combatting the pandemic.

Emergency Clinic Training Officer Dr. Gulhan Kurtoglu Celik said she trains interns and residents at the hospital on how to examine patients.

“On the one hand, we tried to protect our family, on the other, we tried to take care of our children. We have never had such a hard time. I think this year has been very difficult for healthcare professionals, especially for women. We became more aware of our strength,” she said.

Drawing attention to the unsafe environment her female colleagues are exposed to, she said: “We don’t want to receive flowers once a year on International Women’s Day. We want a year, an environment in which we will live healthier, happier and safer.

“We want a peaceful year with our children and family, not forgetting that we are mothers and wives, both in the hospital and outside.”

Nurse Saniye Ince said: “Nurses are always a hand of compassion to patients. It is one of the professions that is rewarding spiritually.”

Talking about the difficulties they face, she said: “We stayed away from our families; spouse and children. I have a 16-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. I was away from home for six months for fear of infecting them.”

They kept in touch via videocalls during that period and her daughter had to take up the role of a mother for the family.

Patients getting treated at the hospital were not allowed to have attendants, therefore the nurses also had to give them emotional support.

“We fed the patients and met their basic needs. Sometimes we held their hands to support them, sat by them, sometimes stayed with them in their rooms to watch television.

“Because they were alone, and it was the moment when they really needed us so much. We have become a child, daughter, sister of some. We gave all the support we could,” she added.

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