HYDERABAD: We are in the second year of the pandemic and our respect for doctors only increases with each passing day. Treating highly infectious Covid patients was not enough, doctors are left to deal with threats and attacks too. To top it all, after working long shifts, they return home with the fear of infecting their loved ones. So, they isolate themselves.
On Doctor’s Day, we speak to these frontline warriors about how they’ve been coping with the stress of the pandemic for over a year. Dr Chandrakanth Tapsi, MD (General Medicine), DM (Neurology), recalls how treating patients got tough a few months ago. “There was a sudden surge in cases but the resources to treat patients were limited. We didn’t know what to do and there was so much chaos,” he says. Dr Swapna Yendru, a gynaecologist, says they were termed ‘the modern day untouchables’.
“When the pandemic started, it took a few months for the government to start testing people. Initially when people came to the hospital they did not know whether they had Covid or not. We had to wear PPEs throughout, ensure universal protection and also treat everyone as if they were Covid- positive. It had become stressful for us and for the patients too. We tried holding tele-consultations but there were network problems. Also, diagnosis is tough when we cannot physically examine the patient,” the mother of two adolescents says. While doctors have not had a single day’s rest for the past one-and-half years, their friends, who are not in the profession, want to keep their distance from them.
Dr Yogesh Kalyanpad, a dermatologist, explains how he kept going on with his work even though treating patients turned difficult. “We have to wear PPEs all day, which has been affecting our health and lowering our stamina. But we are committed to serving our patients.” Dr B Sujeeth Kumar, a consultant general surgeon, who has been helping more than 200 Covid patients a day, says, “Even though I have taken all the necessary universal precautions, there is always the risk of exposure while operating on Covid patients. This has got my family worried. Eventually, there came a time when I was treating over 200 Covid patients a day over phone. It was a huge responsibility taking care of all these people, ensuring that they all stayed home without getting admitted to the hospital. It got very tough. There were times when I hadn’t slept for days together. People used to send their temperatures and oxygen saturation statistics over WhatsApp in the middle of the night,” he says.
Finally, Dr Sujeeth could not take it anymore. “This second wave has been a nightmare for me as the number of cases shot up tremendously. There was fear and anxiety everywhere, which made me nervous. It was difficult to talk to all the patients every day and I was trying to stay in touch with all of them over WhatsApp. Luckily, all my patients recovered. I can’t imagine what my condition will be if at all there is a third wave,” he says. While these doctors pour out their emotions about the trials and tribulations of fighting the pandemic, the least we can do is show them some respect by taking precautions and acting responsibly.