National Doctor’s Day: Doctors reflect on tough Covid fight on
Doctors attending to Covid-19 patients take a moment to allow what National Doctor’s Day means to them because a moment is all these warriors can afford.Updated: Jul 01, 2020 17:59 IST
July 1 is observed as National Doctor’s Day in India and this year, the day is even more special given the ‘frontline warrior’ tag that all medical staff have bravely pinned to their the never-ending struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Doctors attending to Covid-19 patients take a moment to allow what National Doctor’s Day means to them because a moment is all these warriors can afford.
Dr Dnyaneshwar Upase, who works at the district hospital in Aundh has not seen his seven-month-old daughter for two months.
He said, “We have been working without any weekly offs or breaks for two months. While initially it was meant to be six hours, the numbers of cases are rising, so the number of working hours has now gone up to 12 hours. I wear the same PPE kit for the entire day. I have not been home for two months now. I have a seven-month-old daughter and I would not like to risk her health. I live in a separate room away from my family. I am in touch with them only on the phone.”
Upase further added that PPE kits do provide safety from infection, but once the kit is on, for the next six hours, the person wearing the kit cannot consume any food, water or even a bathroom break.
“We suffer dehydration due to severe sweating; loss of appetite as we skip lunch; and in the long run it could lead to a deficiency of vitamins. If this continues, doctors might even quit their profession and choose a completely different career,” Dr Upase said.
Dr Nitim Kadam, who was recruited under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), a national programme for early identification and early intervention for children, is posted with the PMC ambulance in Bhavani peth.
“I have not had a proper conversation with my family for months now. Initially, we had no weekly offs and the cases were also low, but then, as the number of cases rose it became extremely exhaustive and we decided to take weekly offs in turns,” Dr Kadam said.
“Before wearing the PPE kits I drink one litre of water and then, from 10am to 4pm, I am wearing that same kit without a lunch break or bathroom break. This could possibly lead to kidney stones in future. Although we do get a break for lunch, I choose not to take any risk. After finishing this I have to also go for my night shifts every alternate day in a private hospital, where multiple doctors quit in one go after a patient tested positive for Covid-19. Due to the physical and mental exhaustion, I have lost almost four kilos in a month,” Dr Kadam said.
Dr Parikshit Prayag, a consultant with Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital, which reported the first death in Pune related to Covid-19, said, “PPE kits are not the most comfortable outfits. We sweat a lot which causes dehydration. Also, the personal interaction with patients is lost completely. The patient does not recognise who the doctor is. I have personally not taken a day off since March because we have to be present and available as the numbers of cases are rising. We have complete support from the administration, but yes, we have to be ready for any emergency, especially those working in ICU, emergency response or medicine.”
What you can do to help doctors
Wear masks in all public places
Maintain social distancing norms
Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquettes
Report any Covid-19 symptoms immediately to the civic doctors
Quarantine yourself for at least 14 days after any long-distance travel