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May 10, 2021

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Male nurse makes his mark fighting virus

Editor’s note:
President Xi Jinping has urged everyone to follow their hearts rather than chase money or position. This series introduces Shanghai residents who pour their hearts and souls into their chosen work, whether they are designing rockets, practicing medicine or caring for the less fortunate.


Nursing requires patience, concentration and dedication, and none of those traits has anything to do with gender.

Ma Junchi, a male nurse with Dahua Hospital in Xuhui District, has become an outstanding professional by dedicating himself to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The 26-year-old native of eastern China’s Shandong Province serves as the head nurse of the hospital’s nucleic acid collection team.

He was among the 1,649 Shanghai medical team members who bravely went to Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, the then epicenter, to serve on the front line of the COVID-19 battle.

Returning to Shanghai, he took charge of the nucleic acid tests at the hospital and tested travelers from overseas at Pudong International Airport.

He set off on the latest mission last month — Xigaze in the Tibet Autonomous Region — to share his COVID-19 prevention experiences at local hospitals.

“I’m always proud to be a nurse. It’s my profession and guiding heart that lead me to help others,” Ma said. “As a male nurse, I have advantages such as strength and sensitivity to various medical tools.”

Ma worked as an operating room nurse at Dahua Hospital after graduating from the Zaozhuang Vocational College of Science and Technology in Shandong in 2016.

His talent and dedication were clear from the very beginning, exhibited by always taking on the hardest tasks and winning multiple national skills competitions, said Yang Ya, director of the hospital’s nursing department.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, Ma immediately applied to join the medical team traveling to Wuhan.

In his application, Ma wrote: “Firstly, I’m a male with advantages in strength and adaptability. Secondly, I’m single without much family concern. Thirdly, it is my duty and pride as a nurse.”

He set off to Wuhan on January 27, 2020, the third day of Chinese New Year, without telling his parents beforehand. He called his father, a senior auxiliary police officer who was also fighting against COVID-19 in communities at the time, just before the train departed.

He was assigned to the intensive care unit (ICU) at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, which received the largest number of coronavirus patients in the city at that time. He had to take care of four patients on his own, including two seniors relying on ventilators.

In addition to daily treatments, Ma also had to feed them, change diapers, do massage and cheer them up to get through the desperate days — all in a hazmat suit, gloves and mask.

Ma used his limited spare time in Wuhan to enhance his nursing skills. He asked senior professionals at Dahua about their nursing experiences in ICUs.

Ma made a tight schedule for himself to avoid wasting the hazmat suits that were in short supply. He stopped eating after 8pm and drinking after 10pm to avoid going to bathroom during his six-hour shift in the ICU the next day.

Many of his patients regained confidence under his delicate care and eventually recovered.

“I also reaffirmed my confidence and pride as a nurse during the battle in Wuhan,” Ma recalled. “I reassured myself that it is my lifelong mission and responsibility.”

While Ma was taking care of patients in Wuhan ICUs, his father was sent to an ICU in his hometown — Jining, Shandong Province. He had a stroke after working overtime in a neighborhood to contain the spread of the virus, and requested that his soon not be told.

His father later recovered with treatment at Jining Hospital, as well as help from Yang Ya and other doctors at Dahua Hospital.

After working for 65 days in Wuhan, Ma accomplished his mission and returned to Shanghai.

“Many families were reunited after being treated by me and my colleagues,” he said.

After 14 days of quarantine, Ma immediately returned to the COVID-19 battle, and was appointed head of the nucleic acid test team at Dahua. Under his leadership, the team has carried out sample collections and tests for more than 150,000 people.

These people include travelers returning from abroad and quarantined at more than a dozen of Xuhui hospitals, as well as those working for companies and the government in the downtown district.

“Ma’s team has finished many urgent sample collection tasks safely and efficiently,” said Wu Keming, president of Dahua Hospital.

During the third China International Import Expo in Shanghai last November, Ma’s team carried out nucleic acid tests on about 2,000 trade group members from Xuhui.

“I feel more pressure being a team leader, so I have to keep learning and making progress,” Ma said.

Zhou Xiaoyan, a nurse on the team, recalled that Ma was always the first to arrive and last to leave when they had to work 12-hour shifts.

During winter, Ma asked his female team members to stay indoors and undertook outdoor missions himself. He sometimes had to collect samples in an outdoor tent with stiff hands.

The team was granted “Youth Special Force” for the fight against COVID-19 by the Xuhui District government. Ma has been awarded titles such as “National Outstanding Youth League Member” and “Outstanding Nursing Professional.”

During this year’s Spring Festival, Ma asked to be assigned to Pudong airport with his team to test travelers returning from overseas.

He always took responsibility for flights arriving after midnight to allow his colleagues to sleep for a while, said Wu Li, one of Ma’s colleagues. Wu added that Ma could always appease irritated passengers who had waited a long time during sample collections.

“Some passengers would say ‘thank you’ and ‘Happy New Year,’ which immediately helped relieve our weariness,” said Ma.

Since April 29, Ma has been sharing his COVID-19 prevention and nursing experiences at hospitals in Tibet. He aims to help optimize coronavirus prevention capabilities and nursing standards in the remote region.

“Male nurses can withstand heavier pressure both physically and mentally, so it is my responsibility to take on the hardest missions and fight on the front line,” he said.

After returning from Tibet around June, Ma plans to finish his studies at Fudan University’s medical school, as well as prepare for his wedding with his girlfriend, a local postgraduate student.


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