Photo by: MPTF/ UNDP Lao CO project team

Santee Phetkaysone, a 24 year-old young doctor was assigned to be stationed at the KM 21 qurantine center, an 18-room facility in Champasak Province from August to October of 2020. He was initially working for the Outhoumphone District hospital before being re-located to the quarantine center as a doctor.

As Santee was one of the few single doctors, it was much more convenient of him to be working at what could be a rather dangerous place if anyone contracted the COVID-19 virus during his period of assignment. He wasn’t shocked or scared to be given that task, as there were no cases in that area.

But living with 3 other siblings, their extended family and his own parents under the same roof, worried him much more. If anything was to happen, they too would be at risk. “They were concerned more than I was at the moment of being informed about my new duty, telling me to be as cautious as I could,” Santee added.

Most occupants were migrant workers who had travelled from neighboring countries and a small group were Lao students who had returned home. His main tasks were the daily monitoring of temperatures, keeping watch for any symptoms, leading daily house-keeping activities and coordinating with colleagues as soon as any alarming signs were to appear.

Fortunately, while he spent his two months at the quarantine center, very few individuals showed any of the feared signs and all of them were just common colds and medications were provided. More often though, he spent his time looking after pregnant women and the elderly easing their pain and other symptoms.

From his experience, doctors should not only be tasked to look out for COVID-19 patients but look after the medical needs of all residents.  There may be individuals who have special medical requirements. All doctors assigned to quarantine centers should expect to address the needs of pregnant women, the elderly and those with minor ailments.  If possible, the potential support that they may need, should be expected and ready, to avoid any inconvenience that may arise based on the various conditions those may have.  Such underlying issues can further burden their stay compared to others who do not have such compromised physical state. This includes the fact that he has witnessed more calls for support from pregnant women, older citizens and children who were forced to be in that environment due to the pandemic and safety protocols than even coughs or sore throats.

“If further support could include scenarios involving the care of the more vulnerable, I believe that it would be very helpful for all of us. Including instructions and guidance to carry out emergency procedures,” Santee shared. It would also be of much favor, if the emergency scenario-based trainings could involve officers on duty like himself. He mentioned that majority of the time, participants of workshops were identified to learn on behalf of the rest of the team. Nevertheless, he has expressed that it would’ve been truly appreciated if he too, could go through the expected proper process so when emergency cases occur, he would be ready and know exactly what to do.