By Puja Gupta, Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, April 7 (IANSlife) On the occasion of the World Health Day this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is honouring the contribution of nurses, health care workers and midwives in keeping the world healthy.
At a time when the entire world is fighting against the pandemic COVID-19, we should also take the opportunity and thank the doctors and the medical staff for working tirelessly for us.
While most of us are working from the comfort of our homes due to the ongoing lockdown across the nation, the healthcare workers are on the frontline, fighting the pandemic and risking their lives. The concept of social distancing is tough for them to follow as they have to come in close contact with the patients for their treatment. Many of them even have to isolate themselves from their families.
In this crisis situation and fight against the odds, a doctor needs the support of his family at home. Several heart-breaking images have emerged on social media showing how medical staff is forced to stay a safe distance from their family members.
“Most of the doctors and nurses avoid going home or if they do go home they keep themselves quarantined so as to avoid transmission to their own family members. Fortunately, the families although scared for their loved one, are supportive of them. Families know that doctors belong to their patients more than the family. For doctors it’s a professional hazard. We have to deal with it by taking proper precautions whenever we are serving patients. Families also understand and provide a lot of support,” Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Cardio-Thoracic surgeon, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre tells IANSlife.
Most doctors working with COVID-19 positive cases have started to practice social distancing at the home front.
“It takes a lot of support from our family, to be able to stay afloat in these trying times. My husband, my kids, my in-laws and my mother are all very supportive and have gone an extra mile to do things in the household so that I don’t have to do anything and can stay quarantined. Even when I do come out occassionally, it’s a challenge for my kids to stay at a three-foot distance. It is stressful, however with support and love shown by my family, I know ‘this too shall pass,” states Dr Anita Mathew, Fortis Hospital, Mulund. She is senior consultant, physician and infectious disease specialist.
Doctors and nurses and other medical staff have to deal with lot of stress. Covid-19 is dangerous and we know it infects everyone who comes in its reach. Doctors are more prone to develop symptoms because they examine and treat these patients.
Treatment for Covid-19 patients takes place in the isolated ICU. The Unit follows with strict isolation protocols. Appropriate treatment is given according to the stage of severity of a patient’s illness and one has to follow protocol provided by the Ministry of Health guidelines.
“All healthcare staff change into hospital scrubs along with complete personal protection equipment, including special protection suits, appropriate face mask and shields etc before entering the COVID isolation unit. Special areas for wearing and removing these PPEs are provided. Appropriate training for use of PPEs is also provided to all healthcare professionals,” informs Dr Prashant Borade, Head- Critical Care Unit, Global Hospital, Mumbai.
To make sure, the virus is not carried to their family members, there are certain guidelines which the doctors follow. Dr. Boarde adds, “In the current view of pandemic of Corona which is highly infective through droplets and surface touches, the biggest challenges are to the families of doctors. The principles is to follow is the strict guidelines even though they come with a lot of challenges doctors are constantly exposed to high risk of COVID19 positive patients.”
Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Surgeon and Regenerative medicine expert, underlines: “When we go home from our workplace, our footwear is usually kept out of the house and disinfected. Our entire clothing is put in hot water. A steam nebulization for at least 2-3 minutes is to be taken. A hot water bath and constantly drinking hot water is recommended.”
He added: “We as a doctors remain in one room, maintaining social distancing with the family and everywhere else. At the same time, every family member to some extent follows the social distancing principle and also use face mask. Considering everything, life is quite challenging, but we as a medical professional stand with the risk.”
Likening healthcare staff to the soldiers who risk their lives to stand strong for the people, Dr Sunil Raina from Dr RP Govt Medical College, Himachal Pradesh (which currently has four COVID cases), says doctors are dealing with a fairly significant amount of pressure. “The disease we are dealing with is very new, knowledge about it is evolving. Because evidence is less, apprehensions will always be there. Doctors on the frontline are treating patients, then they have to be quarantined, where their families are not very close, plus there’s the apprehension of the disease itself,” he sums up.
Staying away from the family in this difficult time is always difficult. But healthcare workers are the only ones who can fight this battle at the frontline across the globe; and along with them their families are also determined to win against the pandemic.
While work pressure and family anxieties run high, it’s not the end of worrying for our healthcare professionals. “On a normal day, we work hard for 12-18 hours, and have a family life to look forward to, that we can go home to. If you look at doctors now, we are staying at the hospital for weeks one end. Even after our rotation shifts, there’s a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days. Our families are sacrificing and putting on a brave face to support us in our duty,” adds a doctor on duty.
“If the personal protective equipment (PPE) is not there or not good enough, there’s a chance of infection. Another thing in India is how doctors, and their families, are treated by the community at times. We have seen reports of doctors being asked to vacate, not allowed to step out assuming they might bring back infection. It’s tough for doctors to do a balancing act,” Dr Rahul Pandit, Director, Critical Care, Fortis Hospital, Mulund told IANSlife.
“I am sure every single citizen of our nation as well are with us to fight against COVID-19,” concludes Dr Borade.