Putting future plans on hold, young doctors serve Covid patients at GMC Jammu

Jammu : ‘In the first five minutes of joining, I watched a Covid patient succumbing to critical conditions. I was there, I did all I could but it wasn’t enough. I still get chills reminiscing about the fateful day’, recalls Dr Shefali Verma, an intern, presently serving in Covid care ward at Government Medical College & Hospital, Jammu.

MBBS pass outs, Dr Needa Dar and Dr Shefali Verma are among several young doctors providing exceptional services in times of Covid pandemic. They’ve been serving for about a month now.

Detailing their routine, they said, “We usually attend serious Covid patients, monitor their vitals, operate BiPAP machine, high flow and mechanical oxygen supply apparatus, and if need be, report to our seniors’.

Asked about their post-work routine, Dr Shefali reveals, ‘We work around 12 hours a day, seven days a week. When we’re not working, we retire back to the isolated accommodations provided to us by the government. The time is mostly spent sleeping, doing laundry and speaking with family over occasional video conference. Not much time is left to do anything else.”

Dr Needa has a different take on the situation and says, ‘When I’m not working, I make sure I take an 8-hour sleep. Besides sleeping, laundry is another thing that consumes time’. Setting a philosophical tone to the conversation, she said, it is ironical that a Covid patient has to isolate himself maximum for two weeks, while the doctor taking care of such patients needs to live in isolation for a far longer time.

Speaking about family, the two said, “Most of our conversations revolve around Covid and are filled with tension. Our parents are always Covid- conscious and apprehensive; telling us to take good care and precautions,” said Dr Needa. “I’m mostly worried about my grandparents and make sure to talk to them every time I call home,” Dr Shefali added.

When asked about how the two feel about local media coverage, they don’t seem much hyped. ‘We want to tell the world that the patient to doctor ratio in India is huge. Even in a ward with 50 patients, if we spend 2 minutes with one patient, it takes us more than an hour to attend to the same patient again,” said concerned Dr Shefali.

Sounding a bit optimistic, Dr Needa said, yet new wards, new health professionals and new ventilators are being added by the government. “We can hope that we won’t remain so hard pressed for ever’. In a steadfast tone, the two said, ‘We are here to do our duty! Negativity and bad press won’t deter us from doing our job.’

The only qualm the two have is not being able to eat and breathe properly with their PPE kits. ‘It isn’t easy spending an entire day in a PPE kit. A couple of our colleagues suffered dehydration and tremors due to it. We also avoid eating while wearing the kits as it is neither safe nor convenient. We mostly limit our day-time meals to fruit juice, liquid foods and water only’, they said.

Sharing her thoughts on the pandemic, Dr Needa said, ‘Unless we spearhead our fight against it by adopting Covid appropriate behaviour, it won’t end soon. I hope the future generations also take lessons from the present situation,” she added.

Dr Needa wants to become a surgeon in future and said, ‘with the way Covid is hampering our routine lives, I can’t say how long it will take me to take up Specialisation and Super Spealisation courses, as all entrance exams are on hold.”

On the other hand, Dr Shefali doesn’t have any particular discipline in mind and said, “Whichever specialisation I opt for, I will make sure it involves direct interaction with the patients.”


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