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

Dr Mehul Shah has been on  COVID duty at Mumbai-based Sevenhills Hospital since the start of the pandemic, he shares his experience working as a frontline warrior

COVID Fighters: On Duty for 160 Days, Mumbai’s Dr Mehul Shah Shares How His Team Is Fighting The Pandemic From The Frontline
  • Dr Mehul Shah is an Intensivist from Mumbai who is on COVID duty
  • Dr Mehul Shah has been on COVID duty for 160 days
  • Dr Shah says the pandemic is a 'huge paradigm shift'

New Delhi: “COVID-19 pandemic has been a major paradigm shift,” says Dr Mehul Shah, an Intensivist  who is working at the Sevenhills Hospital, one of the first COVID-19 hospitals in India. Being an Intensivist, Dr Shah works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), treating the critically ill COVID-19 patients. He tells NDTV that working in ICU means someone needs to be available 24/7 for any emergencies. He shares,

ICU has critically ill patients whose health and condition can deteriorate at any given moment. Therefore, there should be at least one doctor available and active 24/7. Right now, we have to alternate our shift due to this fact and so we shuffle our days and shifts accordingly. There is a hierarchy of people who work under me, there are Junior doctors and nurses who also work on 12-hour shifts at times if required.

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

Talking about the above-mentioned paradigm shift further, Dr Shah says whether we look at it in terms of humanity, or in terms of medical practices, there is a huge change in our everyday lives. He explains,

Life has definitely changed, for the normal person as well as the way medicine is practised. Practices like social distancing and hand hygiene which were earlier not a part of our basic upbringing are now a norm. People now realise the importance of social distance and hand hygiene. As an Intensivist, I can say that intensive care and critical care has now come up as a highlight field. Earlier most people outside the medical sector may not be aware of this field. Now, nearly ten months into the pandemic, people have also realised how COVID is managed, a lot of the hospitals, admins or the task force that we have across the country and globe, Intensivists care teams are an integral part of them.

Dr Shah also says that stress, long working hours, the anxiety of healthcare personnel itself working with COVID patients are difficult aspects of the pandemic. But at the same time he thanks his hospital for their management of the pandemic.

The way the management has helped in our hospital is commendable. Also its not only the clinical staff who have stepped up and worked on the frontline but also the non-clinical staff like people from HR who work till 10 pm to ensure that the entire staff remains safe, norms are followed, the health of our own healthcare workers are taken care of, he said.

Also Read: “Coronavirus Pandemic Is An Experience Of A Life-time”, Says 24-year-old Nurse From Delhi Who Was On COVID Duty For 3 Months

Dr Shah says that the entire medical and non-medical staff of their hospital gets tested regularly, depending on the level of their exposure.

This is very helpful not only for our satisfaction, but our family’s as well, he said.

Dr Shah has been in the industry for early two decades and is also an active member on the National Board of Intensive care as well as the Society of Critical Care. He has also worked in Sydney for over three years before coming back to India and joining the Reliance Hospital back in 2015. Dr Shah comes from a family of doctors, both his parents are family doctors, his wife is a Pain Specialist in Reliance Hospital. Moreover, he says that his 3 siblings are all doctors and even married to doctors. He said,

We have about 12-15 doctors in my immediate family. Working during COVID definitely got me homesick, I talk to my family, every evening all my family members sit in the hall and we DO A video call. My parents are anxious, my wife feels lonely, my daughter and siblings can feel the gap. I haven’t been home for 40 days, since I’m working in the red zone; I have been working continuously for 160 days. But I think when it comes to duty, it is a major driving force for us.

Furthermore, he says that the fact that the entire staff lives together in the hotel, where they are quarantined, they have a certain type of support.

We are all together isolating in that hotel, so we share, vent, talk to everyone. People who feel low are easy to identify and we talk to each other about the things that are bothering us. Good thing is that we are all on rotation, so we keep getting a good break from time to time. So if I am on a duty today, tomorrow is an off for me. So in that period, I get the time to recoup myself. Being in PPE for 8 hours is really draining, so when we get the break, it helps. Besides we have activities in the hotel for instance we have a physiotherapist, we exercise routine which helps us rejuvenate. Where we are staying, we have been provided with an open area where we can do our running and jogging so that also keeps us uplifted. These things do help us with our morale.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: Both Frontline Warriors, This Couple Miss Spending Time With Daughter As They Battle With Coronavirus Pandemic

Talking about his cases, Dr Shah says that he feels fulfilled when he sees people admitted in ICU pull through, as they are going through a very difficult time. He said,

Those in ICU are critically ill, they have no support of their families, as much as the family would want to be with them, they have to remain isolated. It feels rewarding and fulfilling when I see people who were critically infected with the coronavirus recover. We try to support them, have conversations with them to help with their mental distress. We have multidisciplinary teams, that make plans for each patient as per their condition and discuss with their families.

Dr Shah also asserts that in such times, we need to focus on positive aspects as there are n number of negativities.

All we need to do is follow Social distancing, wearing a mask – humanity will win over the virus if we do these things. We will get through these tough times, Dr Shah concludes.

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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