Published: 06th March 2021
Women's Day: This 25-year-old frontline worker tells us why we shouldn't worry about COVID and treat it like a flu
We spoke to Isha Katyal, who was posted for COVID duty in Karnataka about her experiences, what it was like to be in a PPE kit for hours and more
The term 'frontline workers' often conjures images of soldiers in uniform during wars. But during the Coronavirus outbreak, it mainly implied doctors, dressed in personal protective equipment, putting in their blood and sweat since March 2020. Isha Katyal, a 25-year-old MD student was also posted in the COVID ward at the KLES Dr Prabhakar Kore Hospital & Medical Research Centre in Belgaum, Karnataka during the pandemic. "I was posted there for a week. We had three shifts — 8 to 2 pm, 2-8 pm and 12-hour-long shifts in the night. Mornings and afternoon would be fine but wearing a single PPE kit for 12 hours was pretty difficult during the night shifts. Although the caseload was decreasing when I was posted, it was a really hectic and straining process to monitor the patients through the day shifts, at night too wearing the PPE kit for excessively long hours made us weary. We cannot go to the washrooms in those or eat whenever we like, it was quite a different experience," she shares.
Due to the massive spread of the virus across the country, hospitals had to be extra careful about their staff. "We had a separate floor in the ward to dispose off our kits. Before entering the COVID ward, there was a sterile area that was isolated for doctors, nurses to go in and change into their protective equipment on top of surgical clothes. After attending to the patient while heading out, we had to get rid of the kits, change all of our clothes and then come out to the common area. Our hospital provided us with enough PPE kits and we did not feel the dearth or shortage," adds Isha.
What were the doctors most scared of, we asked her. "The easy spread and highly contagious factor about the Coronavirus are what scared us the most. India is one of the most populated countries in the world and that makes it very difficult to control the spread. Even if you take enough precaution, you can't force others to take that much. You go out to marketplaces and thus have a chance of contracting it. Avoidance of crowded places and washing our hands is what we could do to prevent ourselves from getting infected. Even during the peak time of infection, there were people who did not follow the protocol or even wear their masks properly," she adds.
However, she wants people to know that they shouldn't panic and seek help at the right time. "As a doctor, I would like to say that it's just like any common flu. People with low immunity might pick up the virus easily or are even more prone to the disease. Apart from that, you do not have to worry about it much. The spread was extremely rapid in a country like ours as a lot of people stay in cramped up areas," says Isha.
Speaking about what she will remember the most from this experience is that some of the patients were extremely positive about this and believed they will get through it which made it easier for the doctors to deal with things. "Amid all the uncertainty, it felt really good. They asked us almost every day if we had eaten and were doing well. Not everyone does that. They did not complain. Instead, they treated us very well and spoke to us," concludes Isha.