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A COVID Warrior Shares Her Experience Of Working In A Critical Care Unit During The Pandemic

Meet 39-year-old Dr Swarnapali Maity, working during the Coronavirus pandemic as a Senior Medical Officer in the critical care unit of Fortis Hospital, Kolkata

A COVID Warrior From Kolkata Shares Her Experience Of Working In A Critical Care Unit During The Pandemic
Highlights
  • Dr Swarnapali Maity has been in the medical profession for 15 years
  • During pandemic, Dr Maity is taking care of seriously ill COVID-19 patients
  • Due to lack of manpower, Dr Maity works in both COVID and non-COVID units

New Delhi: 39-year-old Dr. Swarnapali Maity from Kolkata has been in the medical profession for the last 15 years and is currently working as a Senior Medical Officer in the critical care unit of Fortis Hospital in Kolkata. During the Coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Maity’s role is to take care of seriously ill COVID-19 patients with severe acute respiratory distress who need intensive care management. Dr. Maity has been on COVID duty since the end of March and she believes that COVID-19 has changed everything – from lifestyle to mindset. Talking about the changes the pandemic has brought in her personal life, Dr. Maity said,

 

A COVID Warrior From Kolkata Shares Her Experience Of Working In A Critical Care Unit During The Pandemic

Dr Swarnapali Maity

Earlier, I used to meet my friends frequently, call them at home with their families and children and go out. For the last 6 months, I have not met my friends and family members. I have been in touch with them only through video calls. I used to be a voracious reader, travel, work on my singing and cooking skills, but now I don’t do any of these things. Everything has converged to only one thing that is ‘let’s survive first’.

Also Read: From A Care Giver To A Care Seeker: Story Of A COVID Warrior Who Is Back On Frontlines After Defeating Coronavirus

Dr. Maity has handled approximately 300 patients in over six months but the fear of contracting the virus herself and succumbing to the disease still looms large. Dr. Maity calls the fear as one of the biggest challenges she as a frontline warrior has faced. She said,

There is a fear of getting infected by the virus and of course, the thought that what if it turns worse and what if I die.

But the determination to treat COVID-19 patients and fight the pandemic for the nation is more than the fear. Dr. Maity informed that to protect one from contracting the disease in the line of duty, medical professionals religiously take all precautions and adhere to basic classical infection control protocol measures. She said,

Proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) is the key while working in a COVID unit. We have been trained and are reminded of the steps by our wonderful and vigilant nursing officers and the infection control department.

Also Read: 40-year-old COVID Warrior From Kolkata Believes We Can Win COVID-19 Battle By Taking Precautions

Dr. Maity follows equally stringent precautionary measures at home to protect her husband, 9-year-old daughter and house help. While talking to NDTV, Dr. Maity elaborated on how she disinfects herself after reaching home from COVID duty and maintains distance from the family while living in the same house. She said,

We live in a three bedroom apartment and I seclude myself in one of the bedrooms with an attached bathroom. At the entrance of our flat, we have marked an area as a ‘do not touch’ zone. A bucket full of soap water, sanitiser and a garbage bin are always present there. When I enter the house, I remove all my clothes and put them in a bucket. Till the time I have taken a shower, I don’t see or talk to my daughter. I have asked her to remain locked inside her room. I step out of my room only for food and ensure that I have a mask on my face otherwise. I don’t sit and eat with my family directly. My house help keeps the food outside my room, on a stool and I eat inside my room. After eating, I wash the utensils with soap and then put it back on the stool. I don’t even come near to my daughter or hug her for several days in a row especially when I am working in a COVID unit.

Also Read: Ambulance Driver Who Ferried Hundreds Of COVID-19 Patients Succumbs To Virus In Delhi

Earlier, Fortis Hospital was following a schedule where doctors and nurses on COVID duty would work for a week and isolate for the following week. But, now, since some of the doctors have got the infection and are either admitted to a hospital or quarantined at home, the isolation period has been eliminated. Dr. Maity added,

We work in COVID and non-COVID unit alternatively. I work 48 hours a week, divided into shifts. Sometimes the working hours get extended because of less manpower. Fortunately, so far, no causality has been reported among hospital staff.

Further talking about her work as a COVID warrior and what keeps her motivated, Dr. Maity shared an anecdote and said,

There was a woman who survived the COVID-19 infection but her husband died of the disease. When the woman left the hospital, she handed me a letter thanking the entire COVID unit for taking care of her. Her body language was poignant and she was full of calmness despite her extreme grief. I admired the way she accepted the fact that her 55-year-old husband who was absolutely healthy just three weeks back is no more. She understood that this is an unknown disease and doctors and all healthcare workers are fighting day in and day out. Her letter is shining like a bright light of never ending encouragement in our COVID unit notice board. I get strength every time I read the letter.

A COVID Warrior From Kolkata Shares Her Experience Of Working In A Critical Care Unit During The Pandemic

A letter from one of the COVID-19 recovered patients that gives strength to Dr Swarnapali Maity

Also Read: COVID Fighters: On Duty for 160 Days, Mumbai’s Dr Mehul Shah Shares How His Team Is Fighting The Pandemic From The Frontline

Dr. Maity also informed that to overcome the stress at work, the doctors discuss their lives, hobbies, family, cinema, politics, and current affairs. The team often plays light, melodious music at the duty station and pull each other’s leg and laugh as ‘laughter is the best stress buster’ for them.

Dr. Maity also spoke about the challenges and stress faced by the family of a COVID-19 patient and how doctors try to compose them. Dr. Maity often relates to her patients and their families as even her husband had got COVID-19 and she understands the situation from her personal experience. She said,

The time spent in the hospital is stressful for both the patient and family as they cannot meet each other. We have a ward phone which is used only inside the COVID unit. If a patient is in clinical status to talk, we ensure he/she interacts with at least once a day. During rounds, it’s very grueling for the patients to talk to people covered in PPE suits from top to bottom. The fogged up goggles and hazy face shield make it even more difficult for patients to see us; yet we try to cheer them by talking about their improved reports, oxygen levels, that they are doing well and the worst has probably passed.

A COVID Warrior From Kolkata Shares Her Experience Of Working In A Critical Care Unit During The Pandemic

Covered in PPE, Dr Swarnapali Maity is ready to see COVID-19 patients

Dr. Maity believes that India is yet to witness COVID-19 peak and needs to be ready with the resources, healthcare infrastructure and public awareness. Dr. Maity also suggested increasing testing and gave advice to people facing COVID fatigue. She said,

Remember, this too shall pass. Kindly be patient and think about your elders and chronically ill family members. You might bring the virus back home and transmit it to them.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: Meet Agnes, A Head Nurse From Mumbai Who Is Posted In A COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital

While signing off, Dr. Maity urged to follow government guidelines, wear a mask, and adopt for early diagnosis as and when there is a suggestive symptom. She said,

Social distancing in our hugely populated country is not easy but a mask can stop the disease spread. Stay low, stay grounded, stay home, avoid public places, and going out for party or shopping. The new normal that includes wearing a face mask and ensuring hand hygiene is here to stay for at least two to three years.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: “Personal Protection Gear Is My Second Skin Now,” Says A Doctor Six Months Into Fighting The Coronavirus Pandemic

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

World

26,14,68,997Cases
22,22,61,229Active
3,40,08,183Recovered
51,99,585Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,14,68,997 and 51,99,585 have died; 22,22,61,229 are active cases and 3,40,08,183 have recovered as on November 29, 2021 at 3:42 am.

India

3,45,72,523 8,774Cases
1,05,6911,328Active
3,39,98,278 9,481Recovered
4,68,554 621Deaths
In India, there are 3,45,72,523 confirmed cases including 4,68,554 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,05,691 and 3,39,98,278 have recovered as on November 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,33,612 507

11,905 248

64,80,799 738

1,40,908 17

Kerala

51,29,359 4,741

49,152 957

50,40,528 5,144

39,679 554

Karnataka

29,95,285 322

6,783 143

29,50,306 176

38,196 3

Tamil Nadu

27,24,731 740

8,382 36

26,79,895 765

36,454 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,72,446 248

2,158 5

20,55,856 253

14,432

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,373 5

86 5

16,87,377 9

22,910 1

West Bengal

16,14,152 701

7,820 27

15,86,882 717

19,450 11

Delhi

14,40,834 27

290 11

14,15,448 37

25,096 1

Odisha

10,48,492 264

2,222 6

10,37,864 255

8,406 3

Chhattisgarh

10,06,733 27

326 7

9,92,814 20

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,741 26

187 13

9,45,599 13

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,382 28

291 17

8,16,999 45

10,092

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,120 23

112 9

7,82,480 14

10,528

Haryana

7,71,654 11

159 1

7,61,441 10

10,054

Bihar

7,26,212 3

39 6

7,16,510 9

9,663

Telangana

6,75,479 160

3,545 11

6,67,946 148

3,988 1

Assam

6,16,435 123

2,720 71

6,07,624 189

6,091 5

Punjab

6,03,190 17

313 22

5,86,284 39

16,593

Jharkhand

3,49,216 20

109 0

3,43,967 20

5,140

Uttarakhand

3,44,183 14

150 6

3,36,626 8

7,407

Jammu And Kashmir

3,36,386 149

1,724 5

3,30,189 141

4,473 3

Himachal Pradesh

2,26,941 82

809 18

2,22,287 97

3,845 3

Goa

1,78,839 40

275 9

1,75,183 31

3,381

Mizoram

1,34,279 358

4,117 110

1,29,672 466

490 2

Puducherry

1,28,860 35

326 5

1,26,662 30

1,872

Manipur

1,25,117 19

673 1

1,22,474 18

1,970 2

Tripura

84,784 13

89 9

83,874 3

821 1

Meghalaya

84,414 20

308 27

82,635 44

1,471 3

Chandigarh

65,443 5

52 4

64,571 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,269 9

37 4

54,952 5

280

Sikkim

32,211 4

114 5

31,694 9

403

Nagaland

32,100 4

135 1

31,269 5

696

Ladakh

21,494 27

249 6

21,032 21

213

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

1 0

10,678

4

Lakshadweep

10,394

28 1

10,315 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,680 2

5 2

7,546

129

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