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September Thursday

Pediatrics, a science of details, fights COVID-19 in central Cuba

With the maxim that pediatrics is a science of details, Dr. Leonel Díaz Arjone confronts COVID-19 with the red zone to counter the pandemic that has been affecting Cuba for over 17 months.

"I got to cover the first shift in the red zone in a ward of children with COVID-19. I was not really scared, but it was stressful because of the demanding protocols to be met and the high danger of infection,” he said. "That day I was afraid of touching anything likely to contaminate my mask. I had to disinfect my gloves and even my pen, so I was quite wary of everything, but after 24 hours I had got the hang of things.”

"My stay at the Specialized Ambulatory Center of the city of Cienfuegos was a milestone in my professional life because we had to cope with many obstacles; however, I was and I still am honored to serve my country. I’m already used to the permanent danger of getting sick and even dying,” he remarked.

"While it is true that the evolution of children with COVID-19 is not as torpid as in adults, some of them have been in a very serious condition and even died. It’s a very painful reality for the families and for the medical staff and the reason that they need special attention and a lot of hard work, because a child can become complicated in just hours,” Dr. Díaz added.

"Small children do not know how to describe what they feel and babies can’t verbalize anything, but there are many signs that speak for them and become clinical tools for diagnosis and treatment. For example, their respiratory frequency, their sucking strength in breastfeeding, their eagerness for food, their general condition, the color of their skin, and many details that say, ‘Hurry up, I’m not well’.”

As exhausting as being on call at the city’s pediatric hospital and fighting COVID-19 in the red zone may be, this doctor keeps serving the infant population, since, as he says, “The greatest satisfaction is to make a mother smile again when her child gets better, tests negative, or is already sufficiently healthy and safe to be dismissed from hospital”.

Dr. Díaz, himself the father of two teenage children, stresses that the most sacred trophy for a family, so he advises mothers to keep their babies at home because they are very vulnerable to infection and take them out of their home only when they have a health issue.
"Sooner rather than later life is going to return to normal. Everything the Cuban government has done is intended to protect the population and isolate the infected and their contacts, and it has made a remarkable effort to develop vaccines and protect the most vulnerable, which demands all Cubans to be united,” he concluded.

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