- Dr Prashant Borade is the Head of Critical Care at Global Hospital, Mumbai
- Dr Borade contracted COVID-19 and developed a moderate to severe disease
- Dr Borade has handled around 1,500 COVID-19 patients since March
New Delhi: “After developing COVID-19 and recovering from the contagious disease, I have a renewed perspective of COVID-19 patients; I see them from a different lens. Getting infected with Novel Coronavirus was both a scary and kind of emotional phase for me. The three weeks of my battle with the disease made me understand the mental and psychological stress COVID-19 patients and their families undergo”, recalled Dr Prashant Borade who got COVID-19 in the line of duty. 45-year-old Dr Prashant Borade is the Head of Critical Care at Global Hospital in Mumbai.
Dr Borade’s COVID-19 journey is a full circle. In March, he started treating COVID patients, few months into being a COVID warrior, Dr Borade contracted COVID-19 and developed a moderate to severe disease. Explaining his symptoms and the recovery process, Dr Borade said,
I got a fever and it didn’t go for days following which I was admitted in my own ICU. I was in the hospital for 10 days after which I was isolated at home for two weeks.
After fully recovering from COVID-19, Dr Borade joined work and even donated plasma to Global Hospital staff nurse Ujwala Mali’s uncle who was battling for his life. When asked what motivated him to donate plasma, Dr Borade said,
The desperation to save lives drove me to donate plasma.
Dr Borade who has an experience of 23 years of working as a medical professional and has handled around 1,500 COVID-19 patients, spoke to NDTV about his journey of being a COVID warrior and how the pandemic and the fight against it has progressed in the past few months.
Battling The Coronavirus Pandemic From The Frontlines
Explaining the challenges that medical workers faced in the early days of the pandemic, Dr Borade, said,
When the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus was reported in India, no one knew what to do. The first step, diagnosing COVID-19 patients was a challenge in itself as symptoms are similar to other diseases. The second worry was where to quarantine patients. Then, to top this, we had little knowledge about how to take off personal protective equipment (PPE) because the majority of infections happen during doffing off PPE; treatment – research on the use of medicines like hydroxychloroquine was on nascent stage; lack of manpower, especially the paramedical staff; infrastructure like ventilators, high oxygen equipment; availability of medicines. Now, after over six months, the things have become more organised and settled down.
Dr Borade also informed that initially, even the healthcare workers were petrified of contracting the disease in the line of duty. But then they were counselled on the precautionary and preventive measures that will be followed at work. This includes, wearing PPE, following strict protocol while doffing PPE, among others.
Detailing the precautions, the medical workers follow while discarding PPE, Dr Borade said,
After seeing each patient we have to change our gloves. Outside each COVID ward or ICU we have a doffing room and there we have a doffing buddy who helps in the process so that we do not infect ourselves. There is a process like we wear three layers of gloves; after taking off leggings, we remove first layer of gloves and sanitise our hands. Then we remove head gear and second layer of gloves. So, at every level we sanitise your hands and gradually remove gloves. After this, we take a hot water shower, and exit from a single exit.
At Global Hospital, medical staff wears PPE for six hours followed by a 15 minutes break to freshen up and have some food and then again wear a fresh PPE. Dr Borade believes that now the quality of PPE has improved tremendously. The material of PPE is much better which makes it less suffocating and now even different sizes are available.
We also made two teams of doctors and nurses and it was decided that each team will work for a week and rest for the following week. Also, we have divided our hospital into COVID and non-COVID zones. Both the zones have a separate entry and exit, staff and even different floors. This reduces the chance of mingling and transmitting and contracting the disease. So far, everyone has been pretty supportive and they have been working hard. If the doctors will not handle the pandemic then who will?, asked Dr Borade.
Though the team works in shifts, the working hours have almost doubled up. From doing a regular eight to 10 hour shift before COVID era to now being available 24×7, the life of doctors has changed more than we can imagine.
Earlier, after duty, you could settle down and already knew about the patients you will be seeing the next day. However, now, the calls can come anytime. You are not switched off completely. Even now we have manpower crunch and with this, the medical attention and patients’ needs have increased. We take care of 75-100 COVID-19 patients every day, said Dr Borade.
Despite being in the ICU with COVID-19 patients for hours, Dr Borade goes back to his family. He says that though it is not possible to ensure the complete safety of the family, Dr Borade, his wife and a teenage son maintain social distancing at home.
We have separate rooms but at the end of the day, we sit together on the dining table so distancing is not possible at all times but we do as much as we can. Fortunately, so far, my family has not shown any symptoms of COVID-19. I was infected with COVID and there is a chance they were too, may be asymptomatic but together we are safe, said Dr Borade.
At home, Dr Borade indulges in recreational activities like catching up on movies and shows, listening to music. He says that this helps him relax. At work also, the healthcare workers are encouraged to take enough breaks and occasional time off work because they not only have to deal with patients but also anxieties of the families and keep up with the expectations of the society at large.
After being on the frontlines for around seven months now, Dr Borade has learned to value time spent with loved ones and have a mutual respect for every human. He said, time management, leadership skills, being helpful, compassionate, and humble and to have sympathy and empathy are few of the lessons the pandemic has taught him.
Being passionate towards my work has helped save lives. To everyone going out for work or other essential purposes, maintain social distancing and follow all precautions to prevent getting COVID. God forbid, if you get it, do not panic instead seek early medical attention, said Dr Borade before signing off.
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 (Water, Sanitation 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 pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.