Liverpool-based Naval cadets care for coronavirus patients

Naval cadets Monika Pura Kalleshappa and Ciaran Finn have put her studies on hold to help patients through the worst of coronavirus at Liverpool’s care homes and Manchester’s Nightingale Hospital.

Liverpool care home

Monika Pura Kalleshappa

Originally from Bangalore in India, the 22-year-old came to Liverpool to study advanced aerospace engineering at its university, where she also signed on for the local University Royal Naval Unit.

Unable to work over the Easter break or return to her family in India due to the pandemic, Monika decided to “play an active role here in the UK”, volunteering to help in care homes, fully aware of the risks given the high rate of infection.

I felt it was the right opportunity to serve the country even though I knew many vulnerable people in care homes had already tested positive for COVID-19 and were dying,” the student said. “I didn’t want to be just sitting at home feeling underutilised, so I volunteered.

 

Her volunteering in Liverpool’s care homes has been rewarding and heart-rending in equal measure.

“Rather than considering COVID-19 as negatively impacting my life, I consider it as God giving me a chance to serve people during an unexpected and unprecedented time,” Monika explains.

“I have seen so many people infected whilst working – the people we care for and the carers have all been contracting the illness. I’ve experienced people showing symptoms and passing away within a week.

I have found it particularly heartbreaking losing people who I have grown so close to; people who I have taken care of, listened to their stories and experienced their kindness and then helplessly watch them die.

With her family several thousand miles away, the student knows that should she too fall victim to the virus – despite the proper PPE and taking every conceivable precaution – she would not be able to see her loved ones in person, a thought which drives her actions helping others.

Manchester’s Nightingale Hospital

Ciaran Finn

The 22-year-old from Altrincham, who serves with Liverpool’s University Royal Naval Unit, has worked at the temporary hospital – set up specifically to deal with the pandemic in the North West – since it opened last month.

He is now juggling his degree in Business Studies with Spanish and Portuguese at Liverpool with providing life-saving care in the temporary 750-bed facility established in Manchester’s G-MEX centre – more used to hosting political party conferences, trade fairs, TV shows and concerts than patients.

Ciaran had been working as a carer in a nursing home, where he saw the effects of the virus, and put his name forward to work at the new NHS facility.

He spends all his working day in PPE, assisting with medical procedures and recording observations, as well as supporting and helping patients – many seriously ill – as best he can. At times, it has been very difficult.

I got on well with one elderly patient, who unfortunately died. It was upsetting, but the fact that his family couldn’t come and visit him was heart-breaking. We all held his hand and comforted him as much as we could during his death, which I hope is comforting for his family to know that he didn’t die alone and was surrounded by people who enjoyed his company and admired him.

Ciaran Finn