Milly Forrest, a soprano who graduated this year from the Royal College of Music, volunteered as a poster at her local hospital as soon as the virus crisis began. This is her second dispatch to Slipped Disc:
I’ve been asked to give you a quick update about what has been happening in the hospital. The most surprising change seems to be we are no longer being asked to wear long-sleeved protective gowns around positive patients unless we are working continuously on an isolation ward. We are still wearing masks, gloves, goggles and disposable aprons but this has lead to a lot of confusion amongst the porters, cooks and cleaners because the risk doesn’t seem to have gone down. I have been at home for 3 days because of a slightly sore throat (no cough or fever so far) and so the guidance might have changed again in my absence. I will have to wait and see what happens when I return to work.
My shift pattern for the past ten days has been 2-10pm. The workload drops after 8pm and so I’ve started learning Italian to fill any pauses in between jobs. I’ve plucked up the courage to do a little bit of singing; once to the porters on my shift and once on a ward. Most of the patients fell straight to sleep but the staff in particular seemed to enjoy it. One nurse said to me “it’s so hard working here at the moment and you’ve really lifted my spirits.” That to me is what music is about. My amazing friend and fellow singer Bethany Horak-Hallet has just started working as a porter at NHS Nightingale. She is doing 12 hour shifts, all the time dressed head to toe in PPE. She is one brave woman!
Apart from temporarily running low on oxygen one afternoon, the hospital is chugging along brilliantly. Since the start of lockdown the number of very poorly people coming into A&E seems to have been going down. One of the best moments was when I took an elderly man who had been discharged to the main entrance to meet his son. He was over 90 and was well enough to return home. We will beat this virus and before we know it things will start to look much brighter!
Listen to Milly on her website https://www.millyforrest.com/