NEW DELHI: Ever since the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH) was converted into a dedicated COVID-19 facility, Dr BL Sherwal, Medical Director of the hospital, along with the facility’s Health Care Workers (HCWs) left no stone unturned to tackle the dreaded coronavirus.
From admitting its first patient to discharging its 1,000th patient last Friday, Dr Sherwal recalls the initial days of struggle and how the administration overcame multiple challenges.
“We are a super speciality hospital and the switch to being a dedicatedCOVID facility was rather sudden. All the departments were asked to curtail their services. That was a problem and the doctors had to be taken into confidence. The staffers came forward and treated the pandemic as a challenge. We had limited manpower and beds at that time, but still went ahead,” Dr Sherwal said.
For the hospital, Dr Sherwal had to start from scratch – setting up a Flu centre, RT PCR lab, a kitchen, laundry service and even R&D.
“The kitchen was a problem. Patients complained of the quality of food being served and we had to change the vendor. We didn’t have an in-house kitchen. Ashoka Hotel then came forward and helped with the food supply. After they stopped their service in May, we had to come up with our kitchen.”
“We had 160-170 beds and we started procuring beds from PWD. We were also short on ventilators… Slowly but steadily we continued to improve our facilities,” he mentioned. The doctor’s priority is not just to take care of the patients, but also ensure that the medical staff doesn’t get infected.
“It is a highly contagious. Anyone, including HCWs, faces a threat. I have to make sure that the caregivers don’t get infected. Only 14 medical staffers have gotten infected at RGSSH, much lesser as compared to AIIMS, where the number is much higher. I had limited resources and luckily I utilised them well. I entrusted the right people for duty…,” he said.
For the 59-year-old, who is also in charge of two more state-run hospitals, time management and looking after his own health has been a challenge over the past four months. “My motto is to satisfy myself. I do get tired, sleeping hardly 5 hours but I love this profession. But credit goes to my wife; she has been cooking for me since we got married. She has been strict about having only home-cooked food,” the doctor said with a hearty laugh.
Although Dr Sherwal has been in this profession for 32 years, there were instances when the pandemic evoked a sense of fear in him. “There were one or two instances where I felt fear. I had accidentally come in contact with a COVID patient and had to quarantine myself. I was afraid, but life goes on... I am a workaholic and prefer to continue in this field of profession. My desire to work helped me overcome my fears.”