On National Doctor's Day, the warriors do the talk

The New Indian Express talk to a few doctors known for their exceptional work, vision and their reach despite the challenges. These are the people who proudly walk the talk.
July 1 is Doctor’s Day. (Express Illustration)
July 1 is Doctor’s Day. (Express Illustration)

Happy National Doctor’s Day

July 1 is Doctor’s Day and the theme this year is “Lessen the mortality of COVID-19”. These topline healthcare professionals in Hyderabad are under the spotlight like they’ve never been before, during the corona times.

People overtaken by fear of COVID-19

— DR. MANOJ KURIAKOSE, Dr Manoj’s Homeopathy

The fear of COVID-19 has a worse grip on people than the disease itself. Data shows that 80 percent of people who have the virus are asymptomatic, 10-18 percent show mild to moderate symptoms, and around 2.5 percent are dying. However, due to the prevailing fear of the disease, many think that they are going to die if they test positive. Even youngsters, who are not high-risk groups, start panicking. Till now, the younger persons who died of COVID-19 had other health complications. Sometimes, the fear translates into altered reading in the oximeter too.

When we are scared, we start taking shallow breaths. Due to this, the lungs are filled with carbon dioxide and thus the instrument records low oxygen levels. High CO2 makes our lungs become more susceptible to the virus. It has been estimated that by December, 65 million people will be infected by the virus. The government cannot do much to stop the spread. The only thing we can do now is to take precautions and reduce the patient load on hospitals. That is why, asymptomatic persons should not be tested. It will send them into panic mode, making the situation worse.It is also not true that all elderly are at risk. They are one of the most disciplined groups out there who take care of their health zealously. They are more vulnerable only if they have other serious ailments. If you have a house in your village, or a farmhouse, I recommend that you take your family to such a place and self-isolate for at least three months. Since work and education are digital now, you need not stay in the city. The virus has given us the gift of spending our time with family, and we should make the most use of it. 

Long way to go

— DR. K DEEPTHI, Resident, obstetrics and gynaecology Gandhi Medical college

We still have a long way to go to achieve the infrastructure and facilities required to handle a pandemic of this scale. Even developed countries are struggling while dealing with this outbreak. Our city government hospitals were struggling even in the pre-corona days, and the pandemic has made everything worse. Doctors are working round the clock, and we need more healthcare professionals because apart from the COVID cases, we have to provide treatment to the regular cases too. As a gynaecologist, I have to treat expecting mothers and also assist in COVID cases. 

We have PPE suits, but the supply of masks is still not regular. Once, the suits came without the shoe cover. One of the incidents in the last couple of months that left a mark on my mind was the showering of petals by the Indian Air Force. I could not bring myself to take part in it as this symbolic gesture does nothing to solve our problems. Another incident that disturbed me was that of my colleague being beaten up by the family members of a patient. When there is one dot on a white paper, people see only the dot and not the rest of the paper. We are treating hundreds of patients every day, and such hooliganism is totally uncalled for.  

Sleep-deprived, but won’t give up

— DR. NALINI, pulmonologist, Continental Hospitals

No country is geared up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. But the public health infrastructure is much better in other countries than in India. We are in a sorry state. It’s tragic that despite the fact that everyone is paying taxes, they don’t get public healthcare facilities. Healthcare must be the right of every citizen in the country. 

The number of pandemic-affected patients is increasing. When they are admitted to the hospital we are the only messengers between them and the outer world as they stay in isolation wards or ICU cells. Nobody can visit them. We see them as solitary beings getting in touch with their own emotions. At the same time, I feel blessed to be in this profession despite the fact that the risk of exposure to this deadly disease is much higher for us as we are directly in touch with these patients. We don’t get adequate sleep and have a lot of other challenges as well, but despite all that I am asked to choose a career I will always choose to be a doctor. The satisfaction to see your patient recovering is unparalleled and this is what keeps me going.

I am inspired by all the great doctors around the world

—DR. CH PRASHAMSA, Junior resident, Department of Respiratory Medicine

, Gandhi Hospital 

I feel Hyderabad has a long way to go before having world-class medical facilities. If you take our government hospitals, it’s only for those who cannot afford treatment at corporate hospitals. We lack manpower, technology, facilities, and proper medicines. In the past few months, at least two instances really moved me. In one case, an old man was left in our hospital by his family after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Every day, when we went to attend to him, he would ask us to dial his son’s number, but no one would answer or call back to find out about his condition. Then, the other is that people do not want to take or look at the dead bodies of their family members.  All of us are inspired by the great doctors who are serving across the world. I just try to give my 100 percent, in treating the patients wherever I work. 

Destress & shine

DR. SYED SHAZIA FATIMA, Consultant cosmetic physician 

Chennai has always been leading the healthcare sector for years now, and Hyderabad has definitely been catching up. Quality has been more or less achieved but in terms of the quantity, we have a lot to work on! Stringent enforcement of government abled and inclusive schemes can help serve the masses better! Healthcare is and should be a universal right. Even though I am not a frontline worker and many salutes to the ones serving, I have seen a growth in skin and hair concerns. Stress levels can have a mighty impact on your overall well being and your skin and hair.

It is our core responsibility to practice mindfulness so we can also help others. Listen to your body, COVID-19 has taught us all that we took our immunity for granted. Your skin, hair, and nails are a great reflection of your inner health. Do not let stress eat away your health, have faith in a higher power while you take all precautions! Stay safe.

I don’t just treat the disease, but get involved with the parents too

—DR. KRISHNAMURTI, Consultant pediatrician, Andr

omeda, Somajiguda
I think India has some of the finest and top-notch physicians and surgeons. Many of our corporate hospitals are equipped to tackle complex issues and some are well versed with cutting edge technology, comparable with leading global institutions. We lag behind in research and I wish that would change. We have the intellectual capital for sure. We are also severely lacking in our public health measures and this pandemic has woefully exposed those lacunae.

I have been totally homebound and working with video consultations since the lockdown. It’s not the same, but definitely better than being unavailable. When I see my counterparts being Corona warriors and walking through fire, I must confess I feel a tinge of guilt about my self-imposed, safe ensconcement.  I was a Bombay University topper in my college days. I then chose to be a consultant in a private pediatric practice.

I have a wonderful, small practice base which makes it easier for me to be accessible 24/7. I don’t just treat the disease but like to be involved with the parents at every level of child-rearing. I hope to be able to do so for as long as I can. I love that I can make a difference. I love the affection I get in return. I love interacting with young parents from who I learn so much.

During this time, include Vitamins C and D, and zinc in the diet. Exercise, and have a pulse oximeter, especially in homes where there are older people. Don’t self-medicate, don’t neglect symptoms however minor. Masks should be avoided for children below 18 months of age. Time-bound vaccines for children should not be postponed. Optional vaccines can wait. It is important for parents to mindfully work on their mental health so that children are not affected adversely.

My dream is to start midwifery institute in Hyderabad

DR. EVITA, Fernandez Hospital, Hyderabad 

The last three months have been thrice more hectic across the three branches of the hospital as we are not just handling patients who need emergency care, but also quelling the fears of those who are not able to come, via phone and video calls, zoom meetings and WhatsApp messages. It was a new challenge to keep up the morale of the team, ensuring they are getting the right PPE, that they are coping emotionally well and are eating the right food on time.

Never have we been thrown into such turmoil, but I guess we are all learning and winning. When in doubt, I take inspiration from legendary brands such as  LV Prasad Eye Institute and Asian Institute of Gastroenterology who strike the right balance between serving those who can and cannot afford the treatment. I feel blessed that I run my own venture and have the freedom to waive off healthcare fees to the needy. Doctors must mandatorily give back to the community.

During the Covid-19 times, we had a 22-year-old second-time mom who was suffering from ovarian and bone cancer. She came to us when she was 36 weeks pregnant, and we took complete care of her,  for free. She was in cancer trauma yet the mother in her came to the fore and she gave birth to a healthy baby and she never once spoke about her pain, but bravely took great care of the child. Her ability to take care of her child unmindful of her pain has inspired all of us to work. From the receptionist to the head of the departments, we all underwent a course by Harvard Institute on the art of communication and how to ask the right questions to give the right answers and help the patients.

About what I plan to do post-Covid-19 is to realise my dream of setting up a full-fledged training institute for midwives and enable direct entry midwifery into hospitals. Women who have had a great or absolutely traumatic birth experience can do a short course to turn into midwives professionally and give hundreds of women a positive birthing experience. Not every childbirth needs the help of a obstetrician in a hospital. A qualified midwife can do this for a fraction of a cost and with utmost care. A positive childbirth experience is the birthright of every woman and I hope to be able to do this with this institute.

by Tamanna S Mehdi, Saima Afreen, Kakoli Mukherjee and Manju Latha Kalanidhi

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