Team of 30 at Greater Noida hospital toil round the clock against Covid-19
For the last one week, 37-year-old Dr Rashmi Upadhyay has rarely had a chance to even gulp down a glass of water during her 12-hour shift in the Government Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS), Greater Noida. The moment this chief of pulmonary medicine department enters the isolation ward dedicated to treating Covid-19 patients, she forgets all about eating or drinking.
Once the gruelling shift is over, this doctor then readies for another even tougher battle — to keep her distance from her two-year-old son, for his own sake. “We, sometimes, have to be ruthless with ourselves. I couldn’t even cut the cake on my son’s birthday — he turned two on Tuesday. My baby keeps crying for me, but I can’t even touch him,” she said.
In the fight against the Covid-19 spread in India, a number of doctors and nurses are having to make personal sacrifices that is cutting them to the quick, all for the “ greater good”.
Dr Nidhi Pal, who works at the lab at GIMS, spends her day collecting samples from both patients suspected of having Covid-19 and those confirmed with the disease. She got married in November last year and her husband, who is not a medical professional, is her greatest strength and ally. “ He keeps encouraging me to perform my duties,” Dr Pal says.
“But my family in Kanpur is living in fear. There is a protocol to follow while we don the safety gear. We have to ensure that hands are properly sanitised before we start. We also have to ensure that no part of our body is exposed to the virus while treating infected patients. I leave all my belongings in the hospital only, before checking out for the day,” this 30-year-old microbiologist said.
Both these doctors are part of a 30-member team at GIMS, all of whom have put their personal lives on hold to undertake intense 12-hour shifts treating the pandemic patients. There are four senior doctors heading the team of 30 and only they are allowed to go home every day. For the remaining members, the hospital is also their temporary home and isolation centre.
Dr Saurabh Srivastava, who is the head of medicines in GIMS, said, “All the resident doctors, medical staff, cleaners, drivers and everyone else who is involved in handling Covid-19 patients live in a separate building on the GIMS campus. Each person in the team is taking anti-malarial medicines prophylactically while treating Covid-19 patients,” he said.
The team works in 12-hour shifts — from 8am to 8pm and again from 8pm to 8am. Six resident doctors are always on duty in each shift. Each team of six resident doctors works for seven to eight days on the trot before going into quarantine for 14 days to recover and ensure that they are not carrying the virus.
The enforced isolation and proximity has, however, given rise to a soothing bond between the medical staff. “Whenever we get time, we sit together outside the ward and talk bout various issues. Over a period of time, all of us have been bonding over patients and their treatment progress,” Dr Pal said.
Dr Akash Raja, a resident doctor, said initially, the junior doctors were apprehensive of getting involved with Covid-19 patients. “But this crisis has taught us a lot — about the real role of a doctor. Previously, I thought of it as just a profession to earn my living but now I understand the importance of what I do. I want to pursue psychology or medicine in the future. Even when in quarantine, we manage to keep ourselves in good spirits. When the first Covid-19 patient was discharged, the feeling of joy and accomplishment we felt was almost surreal,” he said.
GIMS director Dr Rakesh Gupta, too, has played an important role in encouraging his doctors and medical staff to put duty above self. “We have a great team of doctors and other medical staff. They are among the best in the country, besides being motivated humans. Everybody has been taking all possible precautions while handling Covid-19 cases. We are all working under a lot of pressure but are happy to serve the nation,” he said.
Dr Gupta further said that at times, it is important to motivate young doctors as there every family wants their loved ones to be safe. “We have got a lot of support from the state government and GB Nagar chief medical officer (CMO) in tackling the pandemic in the best possible way,” he said.
Gautam Budh Nagar CMO Dr Anurag Bhargava, too, appreciates the efforts of these GIMS doctors. “Doctors at GIMS are doing a great job — three of their patients have been discharged so far and nine more undergoing treatment there,” he said.