Sonal Popat was shown the basics of how to prone a patient in the morning and found herself working in intensive care later the same day.
“I didn’t have time to think about it or even tell my husband until I got home,” says the dentist who was a ‘second wave’ proner and describes her two month placement as a ‘great privilege.’
The trust’s proning teams played a key role in looking after critically-ill covid patients by physically turning them to support their breathing.
Sonal was one of many dentists who answered the call as the number of critically-ill patients began to rise again at Ealing and Northwick Park hospitals.
She had been planning a return to dentistry after a sabbatical in 2019 but the arrival of Covid-19 saw practices close. Sonal began working for a local charity in Harrow helping deliver food and medicine to people who had been told to stay at home.
“It quickly became apparent how lonely and frightened people were with no connection to the outside world. It was quite heart-breaking and there were so many requests for help coming in that I eventually became their volunteer co-ordinator."
She later began working for the then fledgling Test and Trace service and Public Health England in their Covid/19 response
“The last year has taken me so far away from dentistry. It’s been a privilege to have been involved and working in intensive care has been an extraordinary experience. I’m actually grateful to have worked there as have many of my colleagues.”
A growing familiarity with ICU saw the proning teams do more than simply turn patients and they took on additional duties to help hard pressed nurses who went from one-on-one care to managing up to four patients at a time.
One of her most vivid memories is seeing the first patient she helped prone finally regain consciousness nearly two months later.
“It has been a life-changing year for me. I feel pride and affection for Northwick Park. It’s my local hospital so it’s great to have been involved.”