CHENNAI: “Doctor, I’m sure you will save me.” Those were the last few words spoken by Kiran (name changed) to his doctor before he succumbed to Covid. In his thirties, Kiran’s death has been one of the most unforgettable incidents in Dr Raja Lakshmi’s life, for she was the one whom he spoke to before breathing his last.
“Even as his condition deteriorated, he remained confident that we would save him,” recalls the doctor, who heads General Medicine at KMCH. “Those words still flash through my mind,” she says, adding she couldn’t guarantee him of anything as she knew his chances of survival were close to none. As State tally inches towards the 1 lakh mark, over 1,300 people have become victims of the viral infection till date. Doctors in Chennai say they are weary and traumatised seeing the patients, including youngsters, dying alone. With no drug of choice or a targeted treatment, the people in white say they feel helpless.
“Everyday I declare at least six deaths in my hospital,” says an anaesthesiologist posted at a private hospital. “I cannot bear to see the emotional trauma that the families have to undergo.” The doctor admitted to allowing family members into the ward, so that the patient can say their goodbyes for one last time. “Recently I allowed a young man to see his critically ill father. He stood next to his father’s bed and cried inconsolably for a long time, before quietly walking out. I was reduced to tears.” A senior doctor at the RGGGH says the most upsetting thing is when a patient, who is conscious and aware of his surroundings, dies.
Witnessing death up close
In another instance, a couple was admitted in the same ICU ward, the doctor said. “The husband was struggling a lot in his last moments, and we were desperately trying to save him. But the man died. That was when I realised the curtains had not been drawn and the woman just witnessed her husband’s distressing last moments,” the doctor recalled, adding the wife also succumbed to her illness the very next day.
Another senior doctor, posted at the critical care unit for Covid patients at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital says the most upsetting thing is when a patient in ICU is conscious and aware of his/her surroundings. He adds, “Covid patients unlike others, are able to converse coherently even when their oxygen levels fall below 60. They know they’re going to die, and their only request is to go home.”
4,343 new cases in TN
Breaking yet another record, Tamil Nadu on Thursday registered 4,343 new cases and 57 deaths, of which 2,027 cases were in Chennai. As the State continues its march towards 1 lakh total cases, two more AIADMK legislators -- N Sathan Prabhakar (Paramakudi) and R Kumaraguru (Ulundurpet) -- tested positive on Thursday.
Madurai is witnessing a steady spike with 273 fresh cases being reported, followed by Tiruvannamalai (170), Kallakurichi (133), Ranipet (127), and Ramanathapuram (117). Puliyur Nagarajan (64), a popular farmer leader from Tiruchy, succumbed to the virus while undergoing treatment at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital here on Thursday. In a televised briefing, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said 750 beds were kept ready at the King’s Institute, and will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami soon.
The Minister also said that the State has tested 12,35,692 samples so far, the “highest” in the country and that the CM has issued orders to procure 10 lakh testing kits through Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation. He went on to say that the State is caring for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in the same way and the recovery rate in TN is 57 per cent. He denied community transmission in the State.
Responding to Opposition party leader MK Stalin’s query about the State entering into Stage-III, he said, “Only ICMR has to declare if there is a community transmission, but their recent surveys show that the State hasn’t entered into the third stage yet.” Vijayabaskar also said the State has procured life saving drugs, such as Remdisivir (10,000 vials), Tocillizumab (1,200 vials), and Enoxaparin (1.52 lakh vials) and has distributed them to all government hospitals.
The city has 50,000 beds ready to accommodate those in population dense areas, who would not be able to be home quarantined, Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani announced after a review meeting on Thursday. The statement issued said, there are 51 facilities available set up by the Corporation, for those who can’t be in home quarantine.