Covid-19: In the line of fire, duty comes first for Mohali doctors

The medical personnel are working long hours in uncomfortable protective suits
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Updated on Mar 23, 2020 12:49 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Mohali

Worries about falling sick are very real, but duty comes first for frontline doctors and hospital staff caring for three coronavirus positive patients in the city: Two at Fortis Hospital and one at the Phase 6 Civil Hospital.

Life’s not easy for the healthcare workers who are in direct contact with the patients, dealing additionally with the deadly combination of stress and long working hours.

“Fear is the biggest factor as we don’t know much about the disease. Everyone feels that if you are exposed you will get infected, especially when you are handling coronavirus positive cases. Doctors and staff nurses are getting calls from their family members asking them to exercise caution, but what can be done? Duty comes first,” says Dr Amit Kumar Mandal, director, pulmonology, sleep and critical care, Fortis, who is treating two patients.

The doctors, he says, have to be very particular about hygiene. The protective suits are not comfortable. “We keep sweating and even going to the washroom is very difficult. That’s why duty hours have been shortened from eight to six hours,” he adds.

Dr Rajendra Bhooshan, medical specialist at the Civil Hospital, says his team 10 doctors and four staff nurses are on 24-hour duty “treating patients as per PGIMER guidelines and regularly monitoring their health.”

For him, dealing with coronavirus is a “new experience. It’s highly contagious and moreover the symptoms are similar to swine flu. We are taking extra precautions as medical staff is at higher risk because of exposure to more viral particles than the general public.”

His family is concerned about his treating Covid-19 patients, but his work gets priority, says Bhooshan.

Though Pushpinder Kaur, staff nurse at the hospital, finds it unnerving at times to be in direct contact with patients testing positive for the virus, she says it’s reassuring to “take extra precautions even though stress and long hours make our immune systems more vulnerable than normal,” she adds.

Health professionals are the ones shouldering most of the weight during a pandemic such as this, says Dr Manjeet Singh, civil surgeon, Mohali, who is monitoring the entire system in the district. “These people are working non-stop to manage hospitals. They are surrounded by patients in pain,” he adds.

There are at present four patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Mohali. One is being treated at the Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh.


    Hillary Victor is a Principal Correspondent at Chandigarh. He covers Chandigarh administration, municipal corporation and all political parties.

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