My Experience from the battle fields of a COVID Hospital
– Dr. Ram Singh, AIIMS, New Delhi
The constantly evolving novel corona virus infection and the havoc it unleashed has created a lot of clamor among health care professionals globally. Despite advancements in medicine and medical technology, this pandemic manufactured a situation that was so unexpected and beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. The unwavering courage and responsibility displayed by our medical fraternity during this crisis has been and continues to be invaluable and commendable.
We were just breathing a sigh of relief after closing the COVID facility at our hospital, since the first wave of the pandemic had subsided in February. However, we were also conscious and on the look-out for any signs that might indicate the re-emergence of the disease. Life was just getting back to normalcy and routine was beginning to set in at work. Two months had barely passed when we were once again up and on our toes as the second wave of the pandemic hit us unexpectedly. The experiences learnt from the first wave proved to be of some utility as we were now familiar with the people and the place.
During the initial days, we were in a state of shock as the second wave was nothing like the first wave. The severity of the cases, the sudden barrage of cases, the unimaginable number of cases needing hospitalization overwhelmed our health infrastructure. We were and are, extremely fortunate to work under a very powerful and strong leadership, as our leaders always exuded optimism in addition to motivating and supporting us at each step along the way.
The hospital looked like no less than a war zone in which every single person irrespective of their position or role were motivated to work selflessly, collectively and towards a common goal in the best way that they one was capable of. We also ensured that all necessary precautions were adopted to protect our families and ourselves.
The ever changing trajectory of the disease and the psychological stress it brought along with it did make us feel helpless at times; yet, we did not allow it to deter either our spirit or our efforts. We sometimes did wonder on how best we could mitigate the fears or the negative perceptions that people had associated with the pandemic, or how much time it would take to tide over this crisis or how best to support those who had experienced personal, psychosocial and financial losses.
With the second wave now settling down, I am reminded of the situation we witnessed just after India’s devastating Tsunami in 2004. Both situations have resulted in a significant number of people being physically incapacitated, mentally shattered and exhausted (both mentally and physically). It was heart wrenching to watch friends and families grieve upon losing their loved one’s as the opportunity to say their final good byes’ were snatched away right in front of their eyes. This unfortunate situation will most definitely translate to an increase in the burden of patients with psychological and emotional distress. Medical professionals are to be now aware of these after-effects and consider these psychosocial issues among patients while tending to their other health-related issues.
I would like to salute and thank every single frontline worker (medical and non-medical professionals’) who was martyred while in their line of duty.
About the Author: Dr. Ram Singh is an Assistant Professor at the Dept. of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical of Sciences, New Delhi. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When the going gets tough, the tough get going: A Nurse’s perspective
– Mr. Nand Bhanwar Singh, AIIMS, New Delhi
The COVID-19 pandemic presented us with an unexpected humanitarian crisis which also crippled health systems all over the world.
Nurses were particularly overwhelmed as we fought day and night, months-on-end to manage this unfamiliar and unprecented challenge. Incidentally, WHO dedicated 2020 to be the International Year of Nurse and Midwife in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.
While I take immense pride to have been an ICU nurse and a Dialysis Nurse during these challenging times, it was not there there were no troublesome times. We had barely recovered, or should i say we were still recovering from the damages caused by the 1st wave of the pandemic when the 2nd wave hit us unexpectedly.
On one hand, the patient load rose astronomically, while on the other we noticed a critical shortage of beds, medical supplies and staff as several of my colleagues fell sick at the same time. It was a nightmare! While we felt proud of being called a ‘Corona Warrier’, we still had to battle against the associated psychological effects of COVID such as the fear of getting infected, or worse, the fear of infecting our loved ones which included both my dear colleagues and our families.
My personal challenge was returning to COVID duties after being infected while working in the COVID ICU. I feel that this situation has also most definitely created an opportunity for people to explore a whole new field where disaster management, teamwork and Nurse-Patient IPR intersect with each other, that too in the absence of patients’ families and relatives.
The dip in patient care due to the acute shortage of staff was accompanied by a corresponding increase in psychological issues among patients who were isolated. This situation allowed me to develop and lead an initiative to resolve these issues, as I harboured the unique perspective of being both a patient and a healthcare worker. I had the privilege to therefore successfully lead a group of selfless volunteers who chose to either put in additional hours during their free time or who offered to stay back and help us for longer durations so that we could resolve as many patient care related issues as possible.
In conclusion, though nurses are faced with challenging times, yet we continue to push ourselves to the edge to do our bit for humanity. While PPE is the universal acronym for Personal Protective equipment; for me, it means a Patient Protactive Equipment which helps me to Pump Positive Energy into my patients, my nursing colleagues, my doctor colleagues and into my other healthcare colleagues as we continue our collective fight against COVID-19.
About the Author: Mr. Nand Bhanwar Singh is a Nursing Officer at NCI, All India Institute of Medical of Sciences, New Delhi.