A doctor reveals what this pandemic means for the medical community

From working for hours on end to staying away from one’s family, our healthcare workers are the coronavirus warriors who are putting up the bravest fight against this pandemic. Here’s how it’s affecting them.
Doctors went beyond their duty hours for patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Anurag Bansal Published: 1 Jul 2020, 15:56 pm IST
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With so many lives on the line, innumerable protocols, and guidelines for testing, coupled with a number of impediments, it’s no surprise that a lab staff today is facing issues in maintaining an optimal work-life balance. If you add the risk of catching the virus to that mix, anyone who works in the field of healthcare is bound to experience burnout. 

Right now, our healthcare workers are on the frontlines when it comes to battling the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that’s spreading rapidly throughout the country. They are putting themselves in the path of the novel virus even during this unprecedented crisis. Our doctors, technicians, phlebotomists, riders, and other health workers who support patient care are rising to the occasion and offering the best of care to the vulnerable populations.

Being a lab director, I tell my people every day that it’s like being in the Army in times of war. The fact is that we are waging a war against an unseen enemy. This is no ordinary battle. Therefore, one has to be vigilant all the time.

Taking proper precaution is the key
We work with infectious samples in a lab every day, and I always make sure that my lab staff takes enough precautions. Our specially trained phlebotomists are collecting the samples while following all biosafety precautions and using personal protective equipment such as a hazmat suit, goggles, N-95 masks, and gloves. We have established protocol when it comes to samples being transported, making sure that they get sent across in cold chain in the viral transport medium.

We are also undertaking training and re-training of our staff to ensure all safety precautions are up-to-date. These relate to the use of protective gear, disposal, sample collection, accurate testing, the safety of patients, and employees. Besides, we’ve also initiated temperature screening to help identify possibly infected patients in our labs, so that they could be directly sent to the other remote entry gate.

covid-19 vaccine
Doctors are doing everything to battle this virus. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While these are some precautions that we are taking, our doctors, phlebotomists, and other support staff are still exposed to the threat of infection every day and can still fall prey to the virus. We undertake frequent check-ups for our staff. In the cause of an unfortunate event, they are advised to go home and self-quarantine immediately.

In these times, we doctors are in a high-risk emergency situation where we are subjected to a number of competing duties: a duty to patients, a responsibility to protect oneself from undue risk of harm, the constant worry about passing on the risk to our family members and when a colleague falls ill, the workload increases many folds in their absence.

Nonetheless, nothing clouds our sense of duty towards society. Today we are working hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder with the government machinery to fight this pandemic, almost acting as equal partners in this fight.

I’m extra cautious about health, hygiene, and social distancing, Dr Bansal
Talking about my personal duties, needless to say, my first and foremost responsibility is towards my lab staff to keep them safe at all times, and to be available to them at any hour. There are days I have gone home at midnight, but that does not mean that I am not working when I am not in the lab. I get calls from my team members regarding any doubts or to update me on the task at hand. Many times there are critical situations that need my attention even at 3 AM in the night.

I am glad my wife is a doctor and understands how critical my role is. However, she does worry about my health and I worry about carrying the infection back home, where I have elderly parents and two teenage daughters. I am extra conscious of health and hygiene at home and also of keeping their immunity up with supplements and immunity boosters in times like these.

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I try to keep as much physical distance between myself and family members, it does hurt when I can’t hug my girls or I can’t attend to my aged parents, but I just tell myself “This has to be done to keep them safe. If I think everything is fine, I am just going to put them at risk for an infection.”

And, on this National Doctors Day, I just want to thank all the doctors and health workers of SRL and beyond, working relentlessly during this pandemic – selflessly giving themselves to others. You are true heroes and should be recognized as such. Stay safe and know that the world is thinking of you.

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About the Author

Dr Anurag Bansal, Technical Director N&E and Director - Lab Operations, SRL Diagnostics ...Read More

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