|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 82-83
Experience of a Himalayan doctor couple during COVID-19
Rakesh M Gautam1, Sapna Sharma2
1 S R Hospital, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India
2 Department of Health, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India
|Date of Submission||01-Jul-2020|
|Date of Decision||02-Jul-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||03-Jul-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||22-Sep-2020|
Dr. Rakesh M Gautam
S R Hospital Kalheli, PO: Bajaura, Kullu - 175 125, Himachal Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Gautam RM, Sharma S. Experience of a Himalayan doctor couple during COVID-19. Indian J Colo-Rectal Surg 2019;2:82-3
Dear Editor in Chief,
I have read the editorial entitled “Quo Vadis COVID Responder – Beat the Chinese Virus, Carpe Diem.” It gave me immense pleasure to read that editorial, and I want to congratulate you on this and want to share my experience.
We were in Chandigarh in the 1st week of March, by then the novel coronavirus had ravaged Europe, but India was comparatively spared. We were proud of keeping the virus out till then; though there were certain nervousness and tension in the air, the crowd was relatively sparse in various public places, but it wasn't anything to worry much about. The situation became worse in the next few weeks as we returned home and finally on March 22, 2020, the nation went into an indefinite lockdown. My wife and I wholeheartedly agree through the experience of almost 25 years as doctors that the last few months have been the most challenging. I am a general, laparoscopic surgeon working in a small rural town in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh in India and my wife is a doctor working in an administrative capacity in the local governmental setup.
As the situation was unprecedented, there was a shortage of protective equipment such as personal protective equipment kits and N95 masks in the region. Though I had a considerable stock of masks and gloves being a surgeon, the unavailability of suitable protective equipment made me worry about my safety as well as the safety of my close contacts. Being responsible for administrative functionary, my wife faced the challenges of managing the testing as well as quarantine procedures of the population in the region with a team of doctors. The pressure from work as well as the fear of spreading the virus to our close contacts put quite a strain on our close-knit family. It was quite emotionally taxing as we could not receive the support we needed after what we were facing in our working hours. As we advised our domestic help not to come during the lockdown, all the domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning, and sanitation were shared among the family.
Our practice was hit quite hard as the elective case was reduced. I chose not to furlough any of the staff working in my medical center as I continued to provide emergency support at subsidized rates in the region. There was limited equipment and resources as the supply chain was disturbed and the medical supply stores were shut down. We often lacked human resources due to transportation difficulty which left me without quite a bit of my staff who had to travel a few miles and also without my anesthetist as there was quite a bit of confusion among the public authorities regarding the traffic regulations even concerning medical professionals. Private practitioners such as myself did not receive any help in training the staff regarding precautionary measures as well as procedures to be maintained in the hospital in such times, and it was left entirely to ourselves to train our staff. The public authorities did no favor to the private medical establishments and would resolve to seal them if any of the COVID cases ever visited the hospital in question. It caused private practitioners to be overly vigilant about the patients walking through their doors. However, this did not deter us from providing every patient with medical care to the best of our abilities.
My wife working as a medical administrator in the local governmental setup had to surmount additional challenges during this period. In a governmental setup that can best be described as understaffed when it comes to trained medical professionals, her work hours extended with the occasional break. Lack of knowledge regarding this unknown COVID virus in the local population created some fear, which, in turn, caused the problem in the treatment and implementation of regulations. Providing the necessary training to the ground-level health-care workers and getting them to implement the basic precautions such as social distancing as well as sanitization while almost surveying the region for people suffering from COVID-related symptoms was also one of her responsibilities.
During these unfortunate times, Indian Journal of Colorectal Surgery showed some positive side and motivated not to think about the future and continue to work for the betterment of the society.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Agarwal BB, Agarwal N. Quo vadis COVID responder: Beat the Chinese virus, Carpe diem. Indian J Colo-Rectal Surg 2019;2:1-2. [Full text]