‘Health workers at Koshi Hospital fighting coronavirus undeterred, undaunted’

Kathmandu, April 29

Frontline doctors and health professionals are at high risk of contracting coronavirus but the sense of responsibility towards society and determination to serve fellow humans is what helps doctors and health workers overcome this fear.

Superintendent of Koshi Hospital Dr Sangeeta Mishra says like many other doctors and health professionals she is also worried that she could contract the virus at any time. When she goes back home from work, she maintains distance from her 12-year-old son fearing that he could contract the virus from her.

She has a separate room with separate entrance. She eats alone. She listens to bhajans every morning to forget her woes.

“I am not able to share my feelings with my husband as I need to remain in quarantine.”

We go though a stressful situation throughout the day. As the number of infected people is increasing, our stress level is also going up,” Dr Mishra said.

“I received various scholarships to complete my medical studies and I think this is the right time to pay back to the nation,” she added. She said there were other doctors and frontline health professionals who were also going through a similar phase.

“Twenty-five per cent doctors and health professionals, who are treating COVID-19 patients at Koshi Hospital, are doing their jobs fearlessly right from the beginning, but 75 per cent were a little scared in the beginning. Now they too have overcome their fear,” she said.

Koshi Hospital is the only hospital where 31 COVID-19 patients, the largest number so far, are undergoing treatment and the condition of all the patients is normal. “Koshi Hospital is the only hospital that never closed other health services during the lockdown, though some doctors and health professionals had opposed the decision initially,” she added.

“Our emergency wards were overwhelmed when we closed the OPD. Semi-emergency patients also started visiting emergency wards and that also increased the risk of COVID-19 infection. When a patient walks for two hours to reach the hospital during the lockdown, it is evident that s/ he is in need of medical aid,” she said and added that all the patients who visited government hospitals were the poor and therefore she decided to run all departments of the hospital during the lockdown.

Dr Mishra said her hospital was well-placed to provide service to around 70 people but if the number of cases increase, other options should be considered. As of today, 490 samples have already been tested at Koshi Hospital with polymerase chain reaction method.

“We have been working 15 to 16 hours a day since the surge in COVID-19 cases. We all are stressed and worried, but still standing in the frontline of this battle against the virus undeterred,” she added. Dr Mishra said the biggest problem was limited human resources. “Since we have to work with less human resources, it is more important to boost the morale of health workers,” she added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 30, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.