India has already lost over 300 frontline doctors in the fight against COVID-19. Apart from the risk of contracting the virus and exhaustion from non-stop 10-hour shifts, instances of doctors getting abused, assaulted, pelted by stones, attacked by mobs, ostracised by their housing societies in this pandemic, are plenty.
On National Doctors' Day, The Morning Standard spoke to a few healthcare workers on what motivates them to fight these personal and professional battles:
Dr Inder Kumar Kasturia: Consultant Physician & Wellness Expert - Family Medicine, Aakash Healthcare & Super Speciality Hospitals, Dwarka
We are not only fighting with the virus, but the big fear in the minds of patients and their relatives. As doctors we have to serve people irrespective of the situation.
Dr Gauri Aggarwal: Founder of Seeds of Innocence & Genestrings, New Friends Colony
Conducting COVID-19 tests, growing cases, in terms of testing and treatment, has led to a risk of burnout for staff. We don’t just have to work in PPE during summer, but also have to deal with the stigma of working in hospitals. The one motivation is we’re privileged to be at the forefront of this fight. This has led to never-before-seen levels of commitment, selflessness and teamwork.
Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha: Senior Consultant and Head of the Department, Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Faridabad
Working in COVID ward, though exhausting, is rewarding. It draining to wear the PPE for prolonged hours, especially, when you look at the monitor and realise that your face shield vision has become blurred due to fogging; but when you see smiling faces of patients, especially those who are young and have plenty of life ahead, it makes it all worth it.
Dr Manoj Goel: Director & Head, Pulmonology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram
I see my clothes drenched in sweat when I take off my PPE. At first, it was daunting to work in a COVID ward and the staff feared working in such conditions. As patients stay isolated from families we have to ensure they stay positive.
Dr Dinesh Kumar Mittal: Director and Head, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh
Three months ago, we did not know what we do now. Now, we have begun to understand how the virus spreads, what the telltale signs are. Doing 10-hour shifts in the PPE kits feels like we are fighting a battle. We do not have access to any food, water, or washrooms during this shift. To keep ourselves fit, we hydrate ourselves and eat properly.
Dr Anurag Bansal: Technical Head for North and East India and Lab Operations Director for Gurgaon Clinical Reference Laboratory, SRL Ltd.
Being at the forefront of this pandemic is an experience I will remember all my life. The sense of duty towards the society and nation is what has kept us all going.
Dr Manisha Ranjan: Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida
While we work towards bringing a ray of hope in the lives of our patients, we forget our own mental condition. We have worked through the nights, without a wink of sleep. We live with a continuous baseline anxiety and fear about the unprecedented situation, the moment we enter our home.
Regardless of the actual patient workload, we are anxious. The constant need to stay up to date with COVID medical updates, and counsel patient that nothing will happen to their newborns is causing burnout. Absence of socialising has also increased the level of anxiety.