Tui Airways’ Bridget Donaldson is currently nursing Covid-19 patients on the frontline at Croydon University Hospital. She tells Abra Dunsby what the experience has taught her
Bridget Donaldson, 24, was only able to fly one flight as seasonal cabin crew with Tui Airways in March before the airline was grounded due to Covid-19 and her contract was temporarily suspended.
Then just over a month ago, she swapped her glamorous blue cabin crew attire for scrubs and PPE to work as a nursing assistant at Croydon University Hospital on a Covid-19 ward.
“The deputy director of nursing at the hospital sent out an email to Tui cabin crew staff saying they were looking for volunteers,” explains Bridget. "I decided it sounded like a really cool thing to do and applied,” says Bridget, who also worked for the Red Cross when she was at university. “I love caring for people and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to become cabin crew,” she explains.
Bridget, who has since been temporarily employed by the hospital and works alongside another 34 cabin crew staff, now spends her days offering support to frontline nurses and helping to rehabilitate patients who have come off ventilators in intensive care.
She describes the experience of working on the ward as “a rollercoaster of emotions.”
“My first few shifts were a massive learning curve, she says. “We had training but nothing prepares you for what you see in the job and seeing someone really sick.”
While the job is undoubtedly tough, Bridget says “the majority of the time it’s amazing.”
“The Covid ward I work on used to be an orthopaedic ward, and there are people with lots of on-going issues alongside Covid, including dementia.
“Visitors aren’t allowed right now and we’re really [our patients’] only link to the outside world and their families, so you build up a really meaningful relationship with people. It’s really rewarding.”