HYDERABAD: Doctors and nurses attending to Covid-19 patients and posting their videos on social media sum up the trauma they experience in Covid wards, where the pandemic is staging a dance of death and devastation. End of the day, they often break down into tears.
Medical professionals handling the dying patients say counseling their families on the wait outside is itself a huge task and painful experience. Cases are one too many, hospitals are running out of beds, there is shortage of support systems and life-saving equipment, and the virus’s variants are often difficult to identify.
The medical staff is face-to-face with death and strained also by the extra hours of work day after day, in iterations. Worse, they are exposed closer to this deadly virus than the general public.
Many doctors, nurses and other medical staff have lost their lives while treating the patients. Here is a war-like situation. They are also scared about the possibility that they carry the killer virus home and spread it to the family.
Alongside comes the people’s irresponsible behavior, couldn’t-care-less attitude, the mass gatherings, political rallies, cinema craze, all helping spread the deadly virus. All these are happening when the frontline Covid warriors are staking their lives and attending to patients non-stop and gasping for breath.
Dr Anita Rego, mental health professional and psychotherapist, said: “As frontline workers they deal with the real miseries of the patients, those who are struggling on their beds, those who are breathing their last. The stories of medical success are often clouded by these realities. We need to build an envelope of caring professionals and psychotherapists on whom they can fall back and build their strength and energy.”
She added: “Providing healthcare workers with stronger networks of specialist mental health services is not yet a priority with our health system and we need to advocate it.”
Dr Daljeet Kaur, consultant psychiatrist, said: “There will be frustration, stress and anxiety. The medical staff is disheartened because the situation is not in their control. When it comes to the doctors’ level, the coronavirus variants are unpredictable and it is difficult for them to understand the prognosis of patients.”
“The stress level, though, varies between individual and individual. While a senior doctor might be stressed and overwhelmed, a nursing staff or paramedic on the frontline and spending more time with the patient is more depressed seeing the conditions from close quarters.”
She suggested: “Counselors should be allocated for patients and the attenders. This will reduce the load of the consulting doctors. The medical staff should also be counseled on a periodical basis. Mental health of the medical staff should be a priority.”
Dr J Shivkumar, senior cardiologist: “The medical professionals are always under stress due to various reasons. Now, in the Covid situation, they are putting their lives on stake and saving the patient, whereas the general public is game with flaunting all the Covid protocols, further straining the health sector facilities.”
Dr Ashish Chauhan, Covid care expert at Apollo Hospital: “With an exposure some 100 to 1,000 times more that of the general public, the health care professionals are dead scared while performing their duties. Currently they are working like a soldier, ready to be martyred during a war. A sincere thanks by the patients and their relatives is what they expect.”
“As per an IMA study, an average Indian doctor lives 10 years lesser than the normal population. Now, some 70 to 80 per cent of the patients are treated and they walkout healthy whereas some 20 to 30 per cent die. This is not an easy sight to digest.”
Dr Karuna Madap, paediatrician, Covid-care: “Health care warriors should protect themselves and their families first. If they are physically and mentally strong, they can take care of hundreds patients. The medical staff should constantly take proper counseling for their mental health from a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist. There should be some organisation to come forward and provide nutritious food for the medical staff.”
Dr Sahithi Reddy Lebaka, junior doctor at Fever Hospital, Nallakunta: “Wearing plastic PPE kits for hours in his summer is not an easy task. Restless extra shifts due to constant patient flow, insufficient medical supplies and instruments, all these mean for us a mental fatigue.”
Dr M A Faroqui, professor, PG department of Unani medicine, Tibbi College, Charminar: “On Wednesday, two doctors in this Unani hospital have perished due to Covid-19. Over time, we will be drained out. There has to be equal participation of the public to overcome the present grim situation. When that fails to happen, we become mentally upset.”
Laxman Rudavath, Telangana nursing officers association general secretary: “Nurses are the first to serve patients. Even in these deadly situations, we take care of patients to the best. As we see around too many deaths and when a lot of patients sufferings, we naturally get depressed. We also have a fear that we are taking home the virus to our family.”
Jyothi, staff nurse, King Koti Hospital (Covid Centre): “We are exposed to so much of trauma during this pandemic. There is a sudden spike in the cases. When we return home we are out of our mood. Yes, there should be some mental health counselors for the medical workers.”
Sarala Kancharla, staff nursem Gandhi Hospital (State-assigned Covid-19 hospital): “The pouring in of patients, all around us, it’s suffering and suffering… the shortage of staff, lack of support, our exposure to this deadly virus, the constant fear of us getting infected, we are stressed a lot these days.”
Ravindar Reddy, sanitization supervisor: “This wave made many of us think: is this worth taking risk? We are also seeing discrimination near our place, we are very depressed these days, and yet work should go on.”
Haseena Begum, Ayah, Nelofer Hospital: “Seeing the sufferings of patients, especially little children who are infected by coronavirus, makes us more sad and these days we don’t even feel like eating. We all are so scared!”...