Seniors checking if the PPE kits have been worn properly at PGIMER in Chandigarh.(HT PHOTO)
Seniors checking if the PPE kits have been worn properly at PGIMER in Chandigarh.(HT PHOTO)

Young Covid-19 warriors in Chandigarh undaunted by infection risks, skin lesions, dehydration

Working in non-AC environments can be tough and PPE suits make things work, says nursing officers at PGIMER’s Covid-19 hospital
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Amanjeet Singh Salyal
UPDATED ON MAY 07, 2020 11:58 PM IST

Chandigarh: They’re not just battling to save lives or avoiding infections, frontline warriors at hospitals with dedicated Covid-19 centres also have to tackle blisters, intense heat and other discomforts associated with personal protective equipment (PPE) .

“Yes, there are challenges,” admits 23-year-old Pallavi Sandhu, one of the youngest nursing officers at the Covid-19 hospital at Chandigarh’s Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

Pallavi Sandhu, 23, nursing officer at the PGIMER.
Pallavi Sandhu, 23, nursing officer at the PGIMER.

“I joined the institute early this year and did not expect to be dealing with a pandemic at the frontline so soon. However, now, every six hours or so, we have to be with Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit, checking vitals, assisting the doctors with the examinations and procedures, sweating all the while as the central air conditioning system remains switched off to prevent the infection from spreading,” she says.

Most of the health workers at the Covid-19 centre have to wear PPEs for seven to eight hours straight. Donning and doffing the protective suit also takes time.

“For a few minutes you lose sensation after you take off the PPE. Your feet swell up, you feel dehydrated. The protective eyewear causes blisters and marks on the forehead,” Sandhu adds.

Face shields fog up, says Monu Mariya Jose, a 26-year-old nursing officer. “After 10 to 15 minutes you cannot see anything. And you don’t have the liberty of cleaning it as it is fixed and you cannot use your hands to touch your face.”

Many healthcare workers wear adult diapers as the PPE kits cannot be removed during duty hours, and controlling bladder pressure can be difficult, Jose adds.

Monu Mariya Jose, nursing officer, 26
Monu Mariya Jose, nursing officer, 26

However, even as the youth brigade enthusiastically goes about its duties, seniors keep a close eye on them to make sure they are following the guidelines and protocols.

Shinder Pal Kaur Lidhar, a senior nursing officer at the Covid-19 hospital, says “We keep checking whether the PPEs have been worn properly, negating any chance of infection. We too are at the risk, but seeing the young people at the forefront gives you a shot of energy,” she says.

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