Featured ArticleIssueJuly 21

My Covid Experience

In the Forefront

Dr Rose Raichel, Consultant Physician and Deputy Head Internal Medicine, Dr Mehta’s Hospital

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I have been practising in the field of Internal Medicine for more than 10 years. I have treated more than 3000 patients since March 2020 with the excellent efforts of our entire medical team.

Since December 2019, every news channel has been flashing about a strange virus that has erupted in a Chinese province named Wuhan. Hearing the news made us feel that it’s just affected China and we will be
spared. Never did I realise that this nightmare is going to affect us until one fine day, we saw the news channel
projecting the first case detected in India on January 27 in Kerala. Here comes the alarm bell warning us to be prepared. Still, we didn’t know the face of Covid. Covid numbers started increasing day by day and by March we
were alerted to be ready to face the war zone. With the limited manpower, we had our internal medicine and critical care team prepped up not knowing how we were going to fight the war. We had to charge our team with motivational ideas, teaching effective donning and doffing methods, strengthening the team not knowing about the enemy.

On entering the covid ward on the first day it was a real nightmare. Felt scared whether I had followed the protocol while handling the covid patient. Even the first set of patients were sick and I was confused and worried about how we are going to manage the patients with no effective treatment protocols and no effective medication. With the handful of medicines available we were managing the patients. The first covid death I had to face was a 75-year-old lady who passed away in just two days of admission among the family of seven
who had got admitted. Seeing the family in pain every day and losing their loved mother made my heart turmoil. I can never forget that most of the days were painful wearing the PPE kit drenching me in sweat. Still, I was ready to fight the enemy.

Day by day patients were crowding up with cries and pain everywhere screaming for beds and the crisis peaked up in June to July. Leaving my home in the morning, treating the patients, listening to their stories where many had lost their loved ones created a stir in my soul whether I am going to infect my loved ones and I tried to
isolate myself once I reach home. At last, my fear came true. By June last week, I had a mild fever and cough which made me go into panic mode. I made up my mind that I wouldn’t be affected and reluctantly took the nasal swab test in two days.

My heart was fluttering waiting for the result as if waiting for your final exam results. My mind calmed me saying it
would be negative, but unfortunately, it turned positive. Adding to the pain, my kids were infected too. With deep pain in my heart, we were all isolated and recovered from infection. I had a young lady, who is my regular
patient who was infected with covid and was progressing rapidly due to her extensive lung involvement and
developed severe ARDS. She had to be ventilated and it was the time when Remdesivir was not yet available in
our state and her husband managed to get it from Mumbai. Our team was extremely determined not to lose the
patient and finally one day she was off the ventilator and recovered well which made me breathe out better. She was in my prayers every day.

There are many more life-saving stories to add on. The happiest moments were when a severely crippled patient comes out of the ventilator and smiles at us. Fear, panic and hysteria are around us but we have seen more kindness, empathy and love. There were times when we had delayed food and sleepless nights. The first wave slowly receded and then came the second wave in its vigorous form. I had to face deeply painful moments and more traumatised when I had to face patients in death bed asking me to save them. Many times we have felt helpless, not able to save young people who are the breadwinners of their families. As the death rates increased day by day there was a sharp pain in my heart each time I lost a patient. There were multitudes of happy moments too. There were moments when patients compared you to God for saving their life and those
were the moments which brought you shivers. My fears are gone and the second wave is slowly receding too.

We are ready to face the third wave with full strength and vigour. I feel every day is a blessing and feel proud to be a covid warrior in managing this covid pandemic. As the third wave has been predicted, let us all follow standard precautions like face masks, hand wash, social distancing and protect ourselves and our loved ones from this covid pandemic. Let us all gear up to fight the unknown enemy and win this war. Let’s get vaccinated and stay safe.

When ordinary, became Extraordinary!
Dr Nivetha B, Consultant & Dy Head, Emergency Medicine and Dr Shaik Manzoor Eilahi, Registrar,
Emergency Medicine, Dr Mehta’s Hospital

We are all well aware of the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 in 2021 or the second wave and the
nationwide impact it had. In times like this, the atmosphere in the emergency was like that of a pressure cooker,
managing the patient clinically and counselling the anxious attendees, every day brought new challenges and
was a high octane situation.

One of the most emotional moments was unexpected and it was yet another challenging day during the peak surge. Two patient attendants came into the already full emergency and said their loved one needs urgent care
and attention. We were informed that the hospital is full and we have no in-patient bed but we can, however,
stabilise the patient, do any lifesaving intervention if required and refer to any other centre which has beds. They were speechless, held our hands and started to cry. Initially, I was surprised but later realised that they were tears of joy. The attendants immediately brought the patients and attended and attended to them to stabilise.

Later the attendees narrated the story of horror and agony as they have been going from pillar to post (hospital to hospital) in the ambulance throughout the city for the past six hours only to get denied even entry into the
emergency. Later during our internal reflection, we were amazed to see how our simple policy to provide emergency care to anyone in need is positively impacting lives. We managed to do all this with the simple tool of triaging and helped several patients during the pandemic. What we did for that patient was ordinary and was as per policy but it was extraordinary for them. We as a team were at a stretch but things like these, inspired us and motivated us to push our boundaries and limitations and go the extra mile to provide patient care especially in the emergency.

Each day was challenging and at times even the healthcare workers were overwhelmed. It was very important
to keep morale high and keep going to fight against the pandemic.

To Selfless Service
Dr Saravana Bharathy SP, Registrar – Internal Medicine, Dr Mehta’s Hospital

The word ‘pandemic’ was not new, yet came into existence that changed the perspective of life for many. The entire medical fraternity put forth themselves in the front line to treat the patients whom they know less, of a disease they know little. I was a part of our prestigious hospital and have stepped into the same. Though the ever-changing protocol took time for us to structure the entire management, we made sure not to put any patients in harm’s way.

We have come across several emotional incidents, which were double-edged. There were depressive moments that pulled me down, the one thing that kept me going was the patient’s words, “I’m much better doc”. A smile on their face made our day. Pandemic is a lifetime experience that makes us remember to start from the basics. Selfless service that was on the decline was uplifted and made a strong point for the budding doctors.

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