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COVID Fighters: ‘Coronavirus ICU Is Like A Hell, I Wish No One Has To Ever Go Through It,’ Says Pulmonologist, Dr Sharad Joshi

Coronavirus – is the worst pandemic to hit the world in 100 years and it is showing no signs of going away. Across the globe, in the span of eight months or so, more than 7 lakh people have lost their lives due to the virus, in India, the count is 48,000. The number of cases is rising with each passing day and it is the doctors, nurses and the healthcare system that is fighting the battle from the front. As India gears up for 74th Independence Day, we pay our respects to the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID Fighters: ‘Coronavirus ICU Is Like A Hell, I Wish No One Has To Ever Go Through It,’ Says Pulmonologist, Dr Sharad Joshi
  • Till date, India has reported more than 24 lakh coronavirus cases
  • India is the third worst-hit country by the pandemic
  • Dr Sharad says “Yet people are not taking COVID seriously”

New Delhi: “I have not met my family for a month now, even though we stay in the same city…I am on COVID-19 duty for seven days straight and then for the next seven days need to stay in isolation. The schedule is messy and not an easy one to handle. At the hospital, we are overwhelmed with serious COVID-19 patients, we are treating them 24×7, yet as soon as I go out of the hospital it is like a paradigm shift, as if the world is normal, I see people roaming outside carelessly, without any mask, physical distancing..It is like a pinch in the eye,” says Dr Sharad Joshi, Pulmonologist Special, Principal Consultant at Max Hospitals.

COVID Fighters: ‘Coronavirus ICU Is Like A Hell, I Wish No One Has To Ever Go Through It,’ Says Pulmonologist, Dr Sharad Joshi

Dr Sharad Joshi, Pulmonologist Special, Principal Consultant at Max Hospitals

Dr Joshi has a team of four doctors and they all work in rotation at the Max hospital fighting the coronavirus outbreak in Delhi-NCR. Usually, COVID-19 serious patients are treated here which is a Level 3 facility of COVID with two ICUs – isolation ICU and COVID+ ICU (ICU where only COVID positive patients are kept). Explaining COVID-19 duty and how challenging it really is, Dr Sharad added,


As soon as we come to the hospital, we change our clothes and put on a scrub suit, when we are going to COVID areas, above the scrub suit we need to wear Personal Protective Equipments or PPE kits or the bodysuit. The whole process of putting the gear on takes close to 30 minutes as there are multiple layers of protective equipments which we need to put on. Now, once the gear is on, we cannot drink or eat anything, cannot take any washroom breaks..Till the time we can hold all these urges, we continue to do our work. Usually, the shift is for six hours straight but it can extend as per the emergencies or schedule. Once the shift is over, we have to remove the gear very carefully, which again takes 40 to 45 minutes and immediately need to go for a shower. And we cannot mess around with these protocols as these are essential things, we doctors need to do in order to save ourself from the virus.

COVID Fighters: ‘Coronavirus ICU Is Like A Hell, I Wish No One Has To Ever Go Through It,’ Says Pulmonologist, Dr Sharad Joshi

Dr Sharad Joshi Pulmonologist Special, Principal Consultant at Max Hospitals has been fighting COVID-19 from Day 1 of the pandemic

Adding that the months of April to June were the hardest with the PPE suits on for the doctors, Dr Sharad said,

Imagine your body packed in multiple layers of plastic in the scorching heat, and you can’t even take sips of water. Nor there is AC as central air conditioning is not allowed while treating the COVID-19 patients due to the fear of spreading of the virus. It was peak summer days at the same time the coronavirus cases in Delhi NCR were at its highest..Sometimes, when i used to remove the PPE suit, the inside scrub suit used to be totally wet..I can say that is definitely the hardest duty or time of my life.

Dr Sharad Joshi says to don PPE kits take doctors around 30 minutes while doping off the PPE suit takes them close to 40-45 minutes and every doctor needs to follow these protocols as these are very essential for their own safety

Sharing anecdotes of life inside the COVID ICU, Dr Sharad added that most of the patients that are in the ICU, usually have low oxygen supply in their body, when they come here they know that they have contracted a deadly virus and they are serious and they might not be able to see their families again. He said,

Moreover, on the other sides of their bed, there are different people battling different stages of the virus..So the scene is pretty bad in ICU, all the patients there are battling for their lives and all they see is ‘white ghost’ – the doctors roaming inside wearing the PPE suits in which they can’t even get to see their faces. So, the personal touch or communication is definitely missing, which makes it look like a ‘Hell’.. The feeling in itself is very scary and I wish no human has to ever go through it.

Also Read: Meet India’s Coronavirus Warriors Who Are Fighting In Their Unique Way To Flatten The COVID-19 Curve And Save The Country From The Crisis

Dr Sharad also remembers one of the incidents which he faced in recently while treating COVID patients, he added,

There was a very critical patient with us who I was treating, thankfully he recovered after plasma therapy, so we shifted the patient from the ICU to the high dependency ward and then to the general ward and few days after his test result came out to be negative. So, when I broke the news to him that now he can go home as he is corona-free, he started to cry and immediately held both my hands as a mark of respect..And that moment was something, I felt so powerful and grateful that I am able to save someone’s life.

Talking about motivation to work and how he de-stresses himself, Dr Sharad added that as doctors, one thing that really motivates him to work hard with all the sacrifices is when he sees the COVID patients out of the ICU in the general ward where they are less stressed. He adds,

Sometimes, when I go and meet the same patient from the ICU in the ward, they say, we don’t remember your face from ICU but we know your voice, we know it is you, who treated us. The feeling is altogether something very different, something which can’t be put into words.

COVID Fighters: ‘Coronavirus ICU Is Like A Hell, I Wish No One Has To Ever Go Through It,’ Says Pulmonologist, Dr Sharad Joshi

Dr Sharad Joshi on COVID-19 duty

For destress, Dr Sharad said that thanks to this social media age, though the doctors have been far off from their families, they are in a way still connected. He adds, “Once my shift is over, I usually connect with my friends and families over video calls and that’s how I de-stress.”

Also Read: 6 Months On, What Do We Know About The Coronavirus Pandemic

He further explains how his hospital is making sure even the patients are destress in this fight against coronavirus, he adds,

What we have done here is that we have given video smart phones to every patient in the ICU, twice in a day, they can connect with their friends through that. It is a really difficult time for them, sometimes they can’t even take food on their own, sometimes they are given the feed via food pipes. Moreover, they are alone here, with strangers, without their families, in order to fill this gap, we decided to add the video call feature as this gives them a push to fight for their life and for their family. Secondly, what we have done is that we have created the ICU with a huge glass window, so patients can see the outer world through it. This kind of gives them a feeling that they are connected with the outer world.

Signing off, Dr Sharad urges people to take coronavirus very very seriously and continue to take all the precautions. He adds,

The biggest challenge in the healthcare system today in the fight against coronavirus is that we still don’t have any treatment for the virus. It is very much still present around us. Secondly, this is the biggest pandemic of all times, we have seen, if the patient has been infected with COVID, their immune gets affected a lot. Moreover, we are losing healthcare workers, the one who can help protect people from the virus. We have also started to see that COVID has a lot of long-term symptoms, be it in terms of lungs or any other organ, which is again a very scary thing. This virus is also leaving behind a lot of chronic illness. Every day, thousands of people are losing their lives, in Delhi alone, if you see, from the last few days the death toll is above 1000. So, I don’t understand, why people are still not taking this virus seriously. If we are not vigilant in this fight, if we stay careless, we don’t wear a mask, roam freely, we will not be able to come out of the pandemic ever. People are not following coronavirus guidelines or rule as if this disease doesn’t belong to their little world..

Also Read: 74th Independence Day Special On COVID-19 Fighters: This Paediatrician Suggests Promoting Positivity As She Treats COVID Infected Children In Kerala

Currently, India has reported more than 24 lakh coronavirus cases, of which, more than 48,000 people have lost their lives. According to the data shared by Union Health Ministry, in the last 24-hours India saw another 64,553 coronavirus cases. According to WHO data, from August 4 to 13, the country has reported the highest number of daily cases globally. The recovery rate stands at 70.17 per cent, with 17,51,555 people recovering in the country from the highly-contagious disease. The number of COVID-19 deaths has increased by 1,007 in the past 24 hours and has thus reached 48,040. India is the third worst-hit country by the pandemic after the United States and Brazil. However, over the last three days, it has been recording more cases in a day that both the countries with a higher caseload.

Along with all these statistics, the other worry the country is facing is the fact that the frontline workers are losing their lives while battling coronavirus on their line of duty. The Indian Medical Association has said that nearly 200 doctors, mostly general practitioners, had lost their lives due to the coronavirus. The health body, which represents 3.5 lakh doctors across the country, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that frontline healthcare workers and their families received the assured treatment when infected.

Also Read: 6 Months On, A Recap Of How The Coronavirus Pandemic Unfolded

In a letter to Modi, the IMA submitted a list of 196 doctors who have succumbed to the disease and warned that the mortality rate has reached an alarming proportion now. Tamil Nadu has lost 43 doctors, the highest in the list.

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

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