Doctors at Chandigarh's PGI battle burnout,as COVID-19 surge continues

100 days since it got its first patient, Chandigarh’s premier hospital’s docs cope with patients’ fears, and their own

Doctors at Chandigarh's PGI battle burnout,as COVID-19 surge continues

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Naina Mishra
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 11

Prof GD Puri has had several sleepless nights over these past months. The Dean (Academics) and Head at the Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has been working long hours since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March, and has been spending fewer and fewer hours with his family.

It’s been 100 days since PGIMER got its first COVID-19 patient, and doctors and nurses are fighting a different kind of battle---that against pressure and mental exhaustion.The rising coronavirus cases, the long hours of work, the constant danger of contracting the infection and the challenge of dealing with patients, can take its toll---and does.  

Says Prof GD Puri: “I don’t have time for myself, how can I have time for my family? There is constant round-the-clock remote monitoring of patients”.

PGIMER has treated over 250 coronavirus patients of ages ranging from a month-old to 83, he says.

“We have also treated more than 60 critically ill patients, of which only 16 were intubated and least overall mortality.”

Sometimes, it is the weight of the patients’ fears that bog them down---especially with those patients still in denial.

“There is a constant barrage of questions. The elderly talk the impossibility of their contracting the infection, because they’re so cautious. We’re dealing with the all of that but where do we go to vent out? Physical exhaustion is one thing but when you have no family support, it becomes really challenging,” Dr Neeti Dogra, an anaesthetic at PGIMER, says.

Still, doctors say they are coping better now. Initially it was the fear of the unknown, says Dr Naveen Naik.

“On the first day, there were lots of apprehensions. It’s human tendency to fear about something we know nothing of. But gradually, those fears settled and now we’re better equipped mentally to deal with it”.

Anaesthetist Dr Shyam Meena agrees, but admits that news reports of the growing number of cases adds to the strain.

“No doubt COVID is new to us but it is like disease is not new to us. Last night, I was at a surgery that began at midnight and carried on till 9 am this morning. Although working with PPE gets tough, but it is not very difficult. Other factors have been contributing to the mental fatigue, like the news reports of incessant surge,” he says.

100 Days of COVID Hospital (March 30 to July 8)

Admitted: 256

Ratio (Male:Female)

156:110 

State-wise

Chandigarh- 176

Punjab: 42

Haryana: 23

Delhi: 2

UP: 6

HP: 3

J&K: 1

Maharashtra: 1

 

Deaths: 10

Recovery rate: 81%

Mortality rate: 3.94%

Average length of stay: 17.04 days

Longest stay: 39 days

No of surgeries: 9

Ages of patients (in years)

1-10: 30

21-30: 20

31-40: 64

41-50: 44

51-60: 55

61-70: 31

71-80: 7

 

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