Uttar Pradesh doctor on COVID-19: Hospitals need more PPE, more doctors and more ventilators
Dr Gautam Chaudhury, a senior resident at a major 1,200-bed tertiary hospital in Uttar Pradesh, has been watching the pandemic unfold up-close.
Over 5,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in India alone, with the country seeing a sharp rise in the number of cases over the last 10 days. The number of fatalities has also increased dramatically, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reporting 149 deaths related to COVID-19, as of 8 April.
Dr Gautam Chaudhury, a senior resident at a major 1,200-bed tertiary hospital in Uttar Pradesh, has been watching the pandemic unfold in the state from a front-row seat. The outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted the daily operations of hospitals, as the focus has naturally turned towards ramping up testing and setting up isolation areas for patients who have tested positive.
MyUpchar spoke to Dr Chaudhury about the facilities provided at major hospitals, the conditions of the hospital staff, the status of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as the precautions one must take daily to ward off infection.
Are you concerned about catching the infection?
I am quite concerned about catching the infection. Emergency surgeries are still going on, we are still attending to patients. Since testing in the community is so less, we don't know during surgeries whether the patient is COVID-19 positive, or whether he/she is an asymptomatic carrier from whom we can get the infection.
Have you received any training to avoid infection?
The general awareness of dealing with patients is there. We are taking the precautions of wearing masks and gloves while checking patients, but there was no special training specific to this outbreak.
How are you keeping in touch with your family and dealing with the anxiety of being away from home?
My family is at home, in a different state, during this lockdown period. I feel this is better as I can be a potential carrier who can pass the infection on to them since I’m going to and coming back from the hospital daily.
Are there enough PPE and safety equipment available?
There aren't enough PPE kits to distribute to everybody from every department or speciality. At least those who are posted at the COVID-19 wards or treating COVID-19 patients should get enough PPE.
What does the general public need to do during this public health crisis?
The general population should not panic at this time. Eventually, about 80% of us could become asymptomatic carriers. Another 15% or so will have only mild symptoms. The hope is that we will build immunity to the virus after this and that a vaccine will be developed soon. It is the last 5% of the population, who may be immunosuppressed or have comorbidities, who may become severe cases.
Hospitals do not have enough ventilators as of now to support sick patients if there is a rise in the number of severe cases. So stay at home, follow the principles of social distancing and personal hygiene. Try to eat healthy foods so that your immunity is good, exercise at home and try to stay overall healthy.
What should government authorities at the state and national level do to protect doctors and healthcare workers managing the situation? Is the hospital following any protocol?
Deciding on a lockdown this early and implementing it strictly was a positive step by the government. Money is being put into the hospitals; the health budgets were very less in our country earlier. Money is needed, ventilators are needed - we always have a shortage of ventilators, we always have a shortage of doctors at government hospitals and there is always a shortage of equipment.
This pandemic has spread very quickly; the government is still trying to keep up with what is happening, and preparing if the situation worsens. They have been working towards it quite promptly, but we still don't know whether we'll be able to catch up with the number of ventilators, PPE, medicines as well as the number of hospital beds needed for the exponential rise in cases this disease may cause.
For more information, read our article on How to avoid getting COVID-19 infection if you are a healthcare worker.
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