At 38, Gonçalo Fernandes had a relatively calm life as an anesthesiologist in the hospitals of a private group. “I was able to pick up and take my children to school and that was important to me,” he says in an interview with the Observer. Nowadays he is no longer able to do so, not only due to lack of time, but also as a precaution, since he has been part of the intensive care unit of Pedro Hispano Hospital in Matosinhos since March 23. It was not an obligation, it was an option.
When the new coronavirus invaded Europe, the doctor specializing in anesthesia and intensive care soon became aware that the world would change. He started by suspending graduate school classes and it was not long before he made himself available to return to the National Health Service, which he had abandoned eight months ago in order to change his life. “I couldn’t stay home and watch the news.”
On his return to the hospital where he worked for seven years, almost everything he found is new, from the silence in the corridors to the obligatory equipment to wear. Despite assuming himself as a pragmatic and optimistic, and from everything he sees, Gonçalo admits that the most difficult are the calls with the patients’ relatives to inform them about their clinical condition. Fortunately, he has yet to see anyone dying from the new coronavirus in the hospital, but he recognizes that it will inevitably happen. He seems to be prepared for this and, for now, he is not afraid to take the virus home, where he lives with his wife and three young children.
For Gonçalo, the capacity to respond to this pandemic does not just involve more fans, but also the reinforcement of human resources. It was by believing in it that he volunteered, without previous calls or calls. It guarantees that, despite the storm that no one was prepared to face, the spirit among doctors is one of unity. “Honestly, I don’t see anyone sad.”
He is concerned about his parents’ disobedience, the widespread forgetfulness of other potentially fatal diseases and the possibility of the lack of personal protective equipment in his workplace. What would make you give up? “If my children have severe symptoms, I immediately stop working”, responds immediately.
Here is his testimony in direct speech:
I am from Cascais, but in 2007 I decided to move to Porto with my wife, who is a colon rectal surgeon, and my three youngest children. At that time, I was finishing my course, I had good grades and could easily be placed wherever I wanted, but as a matter of vacancy for my wife we decided to come to this part of the country.
I did the internship at Hospital de Gaia, I specialized in anesthesia at Hospital Padre Américo, in Penafiel, and later in intensive medicine, at Hospital Pedro Hispano, in Matosinhos, where I worked seven years, from 2012 until the summer of 2019. Then I decided to change my life, very motivated by the fact that I only have better quality family life once a week, since managing my shifts with my wife’s was not always easy.