When Mitzy Pickersgill, a patient care assistant, was asked to visit Jamaica’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19), on March 10, 2020, she was excited.
“I said, ‘Duty calls so we have to respond’. That’s the only thing I had inside of me. The field that you chose, whenever the time comes and they say, ‘Listen, war need fi go fight!’ As a real soldier, yu can’t back down! Yaav fi push out without fear,” Pickersgill said in a recent interview while smiling.
She continued, “That was the only thing I had inside of me. I never had any fear or anything. I was like ready! Ready without fear!”
When Pickersgill was called by her superior to double check if she was willing or scared to go, she said, without hesitation, she quickly responded, “No. Why should I be afraid? I know what I am in. I know at any given time what could happen.”
During the first international news broadcast she heard about coronavirus (COVID-19), Pickersgill’s first thought was that it is a man-made disease, but a new battlefield God chose her to fight on.
“I tell myself that I was chosen to go on the battlefield. I say, ‘God, it’s You sending me out there, and God, You sent me on the battlefield, so I know You will protect me.’… We didn’t drop our guard at no given time,” the woman who has never tested positive for COVID-19 said.
Unlike other health care workers, Pickersgill, who is assigned to the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), with joy in her heart, said she has never experienced a dull moment when doing homes visits with suspected COVID-19 cases in the last two years.
She said going to the house of the first case was like being in a movie. Numerous Jamaicans gathered outside their homes to view the ambulance she was in passing.
Pickersgill said the hardest part of the pandemic in Jamaica for her, was conducting contract tracing, mapping, finding patients and taking them to hospitals for treatment.
She had to walk miles through the parish of St. Thomas where residents were ordered to be quarantined in 2020.
“The worst part for me with COVID-19, is when I have to transfer patients, and not just the transferring of the patient, it’s when I am in the ambulance and when I see patients’ saturation dropping, I would be praying and seh ‘God, please’ and try to revive the patient and touch the patient and try to revive them,” she recalled.
At one point during the pandemic, she was assigned to one location for four months where she was sent to check the vitals of about 30 COVID-19 patients per day. Given this, she hardly saw her two sons, ages nine and 10, in an effort to safeguard their lives.
“If COVID comes again and repeats itself, I’m gone on the battlefield without fear again,” Pickersgill said.
The idea of becoming a nurse first popped into her mind in 2007 when her brother became ill and she had to help with his medical care.
Pickersgill said her calling for nursing continued in her 20s while she was an entrepreneur and baker, and she eventually came to the conclusion of pursuing nursing when she migrated from Kingston to Trelawny with her husband to do farming.
“Country life is really really hard; hungry days. Food is there, but no money to buy meat kind products to go with it, so I decided to come back to Kingston,” Pickersgill said.
“They had a HEART NSTA Trust there, so I went. I did web page design and data entry. I started working at a fast food restaurant and became a supervisor in 2003 for three years. I left because I told myself that I wanted more,” she said.
“I then requested a transfer to Rockfort HEART and I got the transfer, because I was determined to go back to Kingston. Me know how fi suffer a town! Mi nuh know how fi suffer a country!” she said before bursting into laughter.
She then become a nurse in 2008, then a patient care assistant and has no desire of turning back from the health sector, more specifically, SERHA.