Dr. Sachin Nayak (Anaesthesia Resident) – Jai Prakash District Hospital, Bhopal
Health workers, also known as front-line warriors of the pandemic, have been abiding their responsibilities, despite many treating them with brutal attacks and violence. But is this stopping them from doing their duties? No! In fact, they are leaving no stone unturned to end the pandemic as soon as possible and taking extra efforts to fulfill their responsibilities. Some front-line warriors have been tested positive, owing to the work they’re doing, but even this doesn’t scare them to step back from their duty.
Nanhi Si Hasi, Bholi Si Khushi, Phoolon Si Woh Baahein Bhool Gaye, Jab Desh Ne Di Aawaz Humein, Hum Ghar Ki Raahein Bhool Gaye… Dr. Sachin Nayak is an exemplar of these lines as he is not only the front-line warrior in this pandemic but also staying away from his family for their safety. Dr. Sachin, from Jai Prakash District Hospital, Bhopal, is spending his post-duty hours in ‘car-antine’.
How do you deal with patients from the pandemic and normal ones?
We have an isolation ward for the pandemic patients, a compartment is reserved for them which has telemedicine zone, isolation ward, screening area. Plus, the teams that are commuting in Bhopal for the sample collection, it’s with the help of telemedicine zone that they coordinate and collect samples. The sample collection capacity is increasing day by day.
Does everybody go through the test screening process of this pandemic disease or how do they segregate? If someone walks in with basic cold and cough, how does the procedure for tests go?
Every patient is considered to be a pandemic patient, so they check the symptoms. There’s a department, which checks symptoms, travel history, trace contacts and if they find a possibility of the virus then they test accordingly. We suggest them 14-28 days quarantine and prescribe them medicines.
What measures are you taking to make sure people listen to the instructions to stay at home?
It’s difficult to make people understand but we try whenever we consult them, we have 3-4 police officers by our side. It somehow has a better effect on them as no one takes it seriously if only a doctor says. The way police make them understand is quite different and the impact on people is very effective.
How are you dealing with the physical and emotional challenges that a doctor facing during the pandemic?
As far as physical challenges are concerned, the doctors are used to it as they have up to 48 hours shifts. But when it comes to emotional distress, the way some people are behaving with the medical department, the staff, nurses, technicians; it demoralizes the team, and then it becomes difficult for us to uplift our frame of mind. It’s disturbing as they shatter our morale and whenever we think about how someone can behave like this, it makes us teary-eyed. The zeal with which we work, collect samples, and treat patients, it breaks down. It becomes difficult to boost the morale. If people cooperate and support, then we can give 200-300% in our work.
What do you think is the reason behind people not listening to the doctors and instead of attacking them?
Even we don’t understand why but whenever we try to analyze with the data, we see that not big political parties but small groups support, influence, and encourage them. So, what happens is the ones, who are getting tested aren’t the ones creating problems. It is their neighbors, who are creating nuisance. When we had initially gone to collect samples from the masjid, the driver had stopped outside to take some stuff from the market when he heard someone talking about attacking us. So, we hardly did our work and left. Next time, we went there with the police. Luckily that day the driver overheard people talking, and we escaped else they would have attacked us. So, it is the people around the ones getting tested are attacking people. We don’t know the motive behind it, but it feels that they have anger inside them for police, system, government and they take this as an opportunity to do something against the government.
Is the government providing healthcare essentials to you?
Yes, and everything is available. And since everything happened so quickly, we didn’t get time to train everyone with the latest equipment. We try training the new staff and juniors on how to carefully use PPE when on-field. Wearing PPE is an easy task but taking it off becomes difficult because there’s always a risk that the person don’t come in contact with the virus if by any chance it is on the PPE. So, one must assure to take PPE off carefully. Even in our busy schedule, we try to take out 15-20 min to train our staff on how to use PPE.
Is there any strategy for the future?
As of now, the plan is only social distancing and follow the lockdown. A lot of medical institutions will soon start a trial on the vaccine which will be a huge contribution in treating the disease, so till that time, it is our duty to take care of the areas where the virus has already reached. So, for now, the strategy is to trace the people and quarantining them till the vaccine isn’t made.
The reports state that the quality of the testing kits isn’t good. Is that true?
The rapid testing kits with poor quality have already been returned. Now the kits that we are using is really effective and of good quality, but the only problem is that its time taking. Per test, it takes around 6-8 hours and we are trying to figure out something which will reduce the time. But if we compare to some other countries, we are doing quite better. The sample collection team and the testing team are doing their jobs quite well and we hope to perform better in the coming days.
What, according to you, the government could have done earlier for the less spread of the virus?
Even for the government, it’s new, but the ones with a medical background would agree with me that the lockdown should have happened much before. But WHO delayed in announcing it a pandemic, so we can’t blame the government.
Are the pandemic patients suffering from any stress or trauma due to the pandemic?
Being in quarantine for 12-14 days is itself very stressful, so some do become aggressive. But at our hospital, we have an arrangement in the backyard for them to walk. Apart from the rounds, we try to go and talk to them whenever we get time, which gives a positive result in their improvement and boost their immunity. Doctors are already trained for dealing with patients, who are stressed because the risk of any disease is always there.
The lockdown has a very positive result as we haven’t reached the number yet which we would have if the nationwide lockdown wasn’t imposed. Like other countries, if we would have delayed the lockdown, the numbers would have shot up in no time. So, the doubling rate in our country is very slow and even though it’s increasing, we still have it under control.
As front-line warriors, is there any suggestion for civilians?
As doctors, we are doing our job and working hard to fight this battle and all we can ask from the civilians is to follow the lockdown. In the medical fraternity, hardly anyone gets time to go home or eat food, and if we can live with it, so can you. It’s difficult but if we’ll follow it strictly then the lockdown might end soon, everyone will get to go out of their houses, and we will be able to go to our home. We’ll be thankful if people follow the lockdown and support us. I have seen people not following the social distancing at the vegetable vendors and it makes me feel very annoyed.
So, you don’t go home and stay in your car after your working hours?
Owing to the contagiousness, how can I go home. And when people will understand how the virus and respiratory system is related, they’ll stop leaving their homes. There’s a reason why it’s called a pandemic and lockdown has been imposed. Some, who feel they’re too strong and nothing will happen to them, are the biggest problems. It’s possible that nothing happens to them but the chain that they’re creating, they are putting them under risk. They can suffer lifelong.
How is your family’s reaction?
They are worried, especially my mother. It’s difficult to explain it to her and even if we try, she doesn’t care as she’s worried for me. My wife tells me that my mother cries thinking about me. I have a small child and he is the reason why I don’t go to my house because he doesn’t know what this pandemic is, so he wants to be with me. For his safety, I decided to stay away from home. Just as much difficult it is for me, it’s for them too. They are behaving strongly which is why I’m feeling strong. If they get weak, then I’ll also break down. When I had decided to stay in my car, my mother had asked me to leave the job and come back. My sister is in the US and they keep getting reports of there, which is why they are more worried for me.
Why are people, even the educated ones, not understanding the seriousness of the pandemic?
I feel there are a lot of defects in our education system. There are a lot of people, who are not introduced to the education system, and then there are some, who are confirming their own education system. So, the ones, who aren’t educated, it is becoming difficult to make them understand. But on the other hand, who are educated, are the ones, who only study to earn money, rather to become ‘educated’! So, it’s also difficult to make such people understand because they don’t want to. And such people are our biggest challenge, not only today but also in the future.
By when we can get rid of a pandemic?
Around one-and-a-half, to two years its effect might stay, according to me. At some places it might be less, at some, it might be more, but it will be there. I don’t want to stress on the economic fall right now as the effect of this virus on us is more important for me. Jaan hai to jahaan hai. My only concern and job is, people! The economy is secondary, first, he has to live. A few days back, the area we had thought that is clean and no more cases will come, we found a person tested positive moving around freely in his locale.
Do you feel online food ordering is safe?
This is not at all safe. Even I’m eating food through NGOs and when it comes to online ordering, there’s a lot of risks that an unknown person has brought your food. People must now settle with homemade food which is safest at this point in time. I’m helpless that I don’t have any other option, but we try to either go on our own or send a doctor to supervise the NGO, where the food is made.
In the end, we salute the doctors all around the world and all we can proudly say is, ‘Sarhad Pe Jo Wardi Khakhi Thi, Ab Uska Rang Safed Hua’!