I noticed she was a little nervous when I listened to her via WhatsApp. She was getting home and perhaps, she is listening to the sound of the Brazilian soap entry music, or not. There is another drama in our life right now. She works as a psychologist at the Faustino Pérez Hospital. She has been working all day long. She is exhausted. I do not know if there is room to unload the burden when the time comes to embrace her children. I do not know. I wish so. The soul of Laura María feels heavy this Saturday.
“This is getting tough: emotional support, this is what it has been all about today; aiming to control affective responses they may experience. But it is all very difficult. We can compare today’s situation with the toughest times of COVID-19. And this is a little more intense. Living through all this is exhausting. But it will pass, hopefully there will be no more wounded people," she comments, and I feel that she applies emotional containment techniques to herself. After all, she is a professional. So, she keeps talking in spite of fatigue.
Luckily, some things relieve her: “We have all the resources available to help, to attend all patients. The response was impressive, both from the doctors who did not have to be in the hospital and from the students. I think that is the most important part of the whole day today: the hospital full of student volunteers supporting. They helped a lot to categorize the patients, to be able to give them a more proper service. It was also very important the involvement of hospital workers. Almost everyone was there without having to be there,” she says. And I think I need photos of those boys and girls to post all of them on my Facebook wall, on Instagram, on the mural, the CDR, in the face of all people who do not trust Cuban youth.
And we now get back to the core of our talk: How are Matanzas psychologists organizing themselves to reach each person in need? “They are quite a few at a time like this. She explains to me in detail, since she has been appointed by the hospital management to organize care for injured patients and provide information and care to all the relatives of the injured and those who have not yet appeared:
“The psychologists at Faustino Pérez Hospital are treating injured patients admitted, both those who arrived and were discharged at the time, as well as those who were transferred to other hospitals and those who remain in the hospital.
“In addition, an operation center was created, where there is a nurse, a doctor and a psychologist from the University of Medical Sciences, and another group of students who also showed up voluntarily. They are working with the lists of the injured, giving information to everyone who arrives from the population, relatives who go there etc…”
Laura María Hernández Lima is still young. She is actually at that age where you boast the energies of youth, but you have been garnered some experience, so when she repeats over and over again that "the students have had a brilliant attitude," you once again want that photo to cover all the walls.
She is responsible for leading this operation center and guaranteeing the whole procedure is carried out, with professionalism and humanism: "To the family member who comes with the name of a person who does not appear on any list, nor in hospitals, or those who are still working in the area of the accident, we took them to the Hotel Velasco in a vehicle provided by the government, accompanied by two officials. There is a Care Center available for them. There is a team that has a nurse, a doctor and a psychologist on call 24 hours a day, permanently, just like us in the hospital.
More information and care will be focused on these relatives. For example, a body appears, as it happened today, and those relatives are summoned when the body has already been identified. We return to the hospital, and that is where we handle this with Forensic Medicine, with the assistance of a psychologist, of course.”
We can talk more tomorrow, she suggests, as she is back to the hospital to continue with the mission that she has been tasked to do. I have known her for years and I know she loves her work, but I am also sure that she needs to put an end to her Saturday that hurts so much. I thank her and ask her to rest. It will be another tough day tomorrow and Laura needs to find new energies:
“I'll be back tomorrow with no time to return home. I am on duty on Monday. In the hospital, we have injured patients in Burn Ward, patients who are in the open room, who have lighter injuries; we have a serious patient, and everyone is receiving psychological care. They and their families.”
Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff