Stories from the frontline: Eva Pena Charlon

We hear from Eva, ward manager of a neurosurgical trauma unit at King’s, who explains how the team adapted to COVID-19

Eva Pena Charlon

“I am the ward manager of a neurosurgical trauma unit. We are in charge of 20 patients with complex neurosurgical conditions in the form of brain/spinal tumours, spinal injuries, brain bleeds, and head injuries.”

Eva shares how COVID-19 impacted her role, “My role was to oversee a successful transformation from a non-COVID-19 ward to a COVID-19 ward, while still making patients' safety a priority. The drastic change and short notice were a challenge for my team and me.

“The first two weeks of the pandemic were very difficult, since COVID-19 patients were not part of our expertise and we had to adapt and learn quickly to a demanding unit. However, the team has impressed me once more through good communication and team effort across the multi-disciplinary team.”

Eva tells us how her team adapted to becoming a COVID-19 ward: “We made sure that everyone was properly trained and efficient in their use of Personal protective equipment to keep everyone as safe as possible. There was individual support and we all looked after each other, offering additional breaks due to the extra stress and pressure.

“I have learnt to adapt quickly to new circumstances and accept change with a brave face. The pandemic has made me realise that our patients' wellbeing is as important as staff’s. Everyone has something going on behind closed doors, and we should be there and help one another. Having someone there to listen to you could mean a lot.

“Our proudest achievement is getting our patients back to baseline health and seeing them return to their loved ones. Especially with social distancing and no visiting hours, we understand how difficult it is for both patients and families to be separated. At a personal level, I have been extremely touched by the support and pride my kids have shown each time I came home after a long day at work.

“I will always look back and proudly say "We did it! We survived COVID-19 through our hard work and resilience. I was part of the global pandemic, and I was able to do my part.

“No matter how small my contribution was to beat COVID-19, I believe I made a difference. I feel really proud.”