Doctors’ pandemic: Tales of sacrifice, empathy and challenges

National Doctor’s Day is celebrated across the nation on July 1 to mainly acknowledge their priceless service towards the humanity. The second wave of the pandemic sparked a tragic chain of events, prompting doctors to go beyond their call of duty and extend help to the patients in need. Now, it’s our time to show our gratitude to the ones who are still facing the Covid 19 pandemic with fierce energy, protecting each of their patients and trying to bring health back into our lives. Saluting the indomitable spirits of doctors and their services, we bring to you doctors who share their experiences, learnings and challenges they’ve face in these trying times. Read the doctors’ side of story –

Dr Gauri Aggarwal, Founder, Seeds of Innocence & Genestrings:

It has been quite a challenging and helpless time even for doctors, who are struggling day in and day out to provide the best healthcare facility to their patients. While doing so, we ourselves suffer from huge burnout that is taking a toll on our physical and mental health. There is a rampant fear going in our mind of what if we become the source of spreading the infection to our children. As doctors, we get trained to face the most unfortunate and unforeseen situations and handle them calmly. Despite that, what most people forget to realise is that doctors are humans too. And crises like the ongoing Pandemic can be overwhelming.

As a practicing infertility specialist and head of the diagnostic lab conducting COVID19 tests, we are not only dealing with patient’s expectations and anxieties but carefully monitoring and catering to the staff’s wellbeing and fears, as well. Growing cases, both in terms of testing and treatment, has led to a risk of burnout for the staff. The ongoing circumstances are especially traumatic for doctors and employees having to deal with not just working in PPE during summer, but also deal with the associated stigma of working in COVID environment from neighbours and friends/ relatives. Hence measures are being taken to ensure their absolute safety and mental wellbeing. That said, the only motivation right now for all of us is the fact that we’re privileged enough to be at the forefront of this fight to help fellow citizens get tested timely and being treated and ultimately eradicate this deadly disease. This fight against the Pandemic has resulted in never seen before levels of commitment, selflessness and teamwork, which is heartening to see. I’m sure a few years down the line we will look back at this as great learning, not only in terms of management of such infectious diseases but also in teamwork and bonding.

Dr Aashish Chaudhry, MD, Aakash Healthcare

Coronavirus pandemic has been a tough time for everyone, especially doctors. This disease is known to be very contagious and till now there are no concrete solutions on how to manage it effectively despite working for 15 or even 18 hours in a day and this is a major challenge. The doctors constantly face the threat of catching the disease and infecting their own families and this is the reason many doctors have stopped going back to their homes and have shifted to solitary accommodations, where they go to take rest after completing their duty hours. What has added to the woes of the doctors is the lack of a definite cure for the infection making them work extra tough. Moreover, calming the anxious patients and their families adds to the immense pressure. According to IMA, about 798 doctors died during the second wave of the pandemic across the country, with the maximum number in Delhi at 128.  And that has made the doctors even more anxious and depressed. To deal with the situation, counseling and peer support have helped the community to great extent.

At Aakash Healthcare, one of our physiotherapists died because of COVID-19. Our doctors got infected too with the virus but we found ourselves lucky that they came out from illness victoriously and have later joined Hospital as well. Most of them were providing tele-consultations during which they were quarantined. The people should likewise understand their moral obligation towards the nation, healthcare fraternity to help during these times so that we shall not have to see the same situations like during the second wave.

Dr Akshay Budhraja, Pulmonologist, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka

In the month of March 2020, all of us came to know about the first COVID cases in Delhi. I was scared after learning about the damage this virus was causing in China, but deep down I had a feeling that it wouldn’t impact Indian population much because we are a tough breed. We used to do bronchoscopy of suspected covid patients. The amount of virus containing aerosol that procedure generates was enormously high and it was tough not to get exposed to the virus, despite taking adequate precautions, making the doctor, the nursing staff and technicians at high risk of contracting the virus. Meanwhile my parents, who live in Jabalpur, were anxious and scared after knowing that i am treating covid patients and how dangerous this virus is. My wife, who is a doctor herself, stood by me like a pillar when I was curious, worried, anxious, tired, all at the same time.

What I learnt in this deadly pandemic was that more than any medicine, reassurance was the most important component in the management of covid patients. Sometimes, all it requires is to spare a few minutes to address their queries and give them positive psychological counselling. Every day was a new challenge. We saw patients in ICU who were on the verge of collapse but recovered miraculously. We saw patients who were doing absolutely fine in the ward and suddenly worsened clinically. It was heartbreaking to see a patient getting succumbed in front of us without having even the last few words with their loved ones. An Even bigger challenge was shortage of oxygen and medicines when the number of cases were at peak.

Vaccine is the real hope after one of the most challenging years in human history. Don’t let rumors stop you from getting vaccinated. Do not risk your life to covid because of fear of side effects of the vaccine. It is a long process as the world is getting mass vaccination for protection against this earth-shattering virus, but this is the only valid solution to overcome and get life back to normalcy. What I learnt is, the backbone of the whole hospital team is the nursing staff, who were there for the COVID patients no matter what time it is, no matter how angry the patient is, no matter how difficult the situation is. They are the most important, courageous and under-appreciated group of health care workers. They are the real heroes. I respect them even more now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s