After a lot of persuasion with the hospital administration which is treating covid-19 patients, to know the first-hand view of the frontline covid warriors, a doctor and nurse took me to their busy hospital brimming with patients and some are on the brink of death. After wearing her usual uniform and a surgical mask, the 34-year-old nurse heads to the dressing area to prepare. The nurse thoroughly washes her hands with a special sanitizer and puts a protective suit on top of her clothing. After, she pulls on a pair of gloves.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, Kumari (name changed), a senior-most nurse in a corporate hospital said “Until the end of my shift, these gloves become my skin. “Whenever I get time I disinfect them.” She tells that, there are 45 people aged between 50 and 70. Also, there are some younger patients. Dot at 6 am, medical personnel bustle about the wards. The nurses draw blood, check patients’ oxygen levels and deliver medicine, as doctors start the first rounds of inspections. At the intensive care units, doctors arrange consultations and X-ray tests proceed at pace.
In our hospital, only patients with a high fever and who need significant levels of oxygen support are currently hospitalized. Apart from monitoring high respiratory rates and shortness of breath, medical staff review arterial blood gas tests, which measure the percentage of oxygen in the blood, she told me in silently.
Dr. Srinivas (Name changed) said a patient’s condition can change immensely in a day. Sometimes, the oxygen levels drop very fast, which requires intubation. The doctors and nurses are outperforming themselves. Indeed it is extremely emotional to witness,” added Mr. Srinivas. Of course, the percentage of health workers infected in Andhra Pradesh throughout the pandemic is something the media should highlight. If all medics were tested, the actual rate of infection could be so high that it would stop hospitals from functioning, he added. In between, critical patients and reported deaths, the Ambulance sirens continuously cut through the silence of a city on lockdown.
Dr. Rama Rao (name changed), a pulmonologist in the hospital said the pandemic feels like a “viral earthquake and similar to a new telluric shock every day, with scores of new patients suffering simultaneously. Presently it is difficult to move patients who have slightly improved to make space for those who have more serious conditions.” The second wave of the disease is unpredictable. Patients are becoming feeble and eventually going out. The shortness of breath and wheezing precedes death. The patients with several underlying conditions are not taken to the ICUs. What an irony, we do all we can to accompany them gently into their deaths,” said Dr. Roy, an anesthesiologist grimly, adding there was an enormous sadness around them.
“The patients are afraid, alone and isolated. Indeed, it is excruciating to see them die like this. More so, it is devastating to call their families,” he said. Other doctors said “we are completely exhausted, both physically and psychologically. The second wave of covid disease creates such uncertainties that even those most prepared to face extreme situations and take difficult decisions to break under the pressure.”
Carrying out complex procedures such as intubation while wearing protective gear can be exhausting. Even people keep coming in but you already know some of them, they won’t make it. Of course, some patients die of suffocation and what makes it even harder is that there is no end in sight,” said another Intensive care specialist.