Sevagram, a nondescript village in western India, geared up quickly to shoulder the pandemic wrath soon after coronavirus upturned the world. While the entire country was forced into the lock down, 934-bed Kasturba Hospital - attached to Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences Sevagram- took timely measures to fight the deadly virus. After being cocooned in a green zone for nearly two months, the Gandhian village saw its first patient in May. The number has been growing since and so is the indomitable spirit of healthcare workers who are working on the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19. Despite having aged parents, young children, dependent spouses or even co-morbidities in themselves, these corona warriors opted for risking their lives to keep the society safe.
MGIMS recently spoke to these warriors to know how it feels like risking one’s life for saving others’.
“It takes a toll on you mentally, but standing in solidarity keeps you going”
said Dr Sumedh Jajoo and Dr Dhiraj Bhandari, who are shouldering institute's responsibilities for COVID-19. “We have put untiring efforts and sleepless nights caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients in a challenging environment. Sometimes, not being able to save them robs us of mental peace and creates a dilemma we are unable to resolve. We need coordination and helping hands from everyone to continue doing the best", he exclaimed. “We put our knowledge, our expertise and every possible resource to deal with critically ill patients”, said Dr Bhandari with a hope of overcoming the crisis soon.
“My duty is my priority in this time of adversity”
says Mr Bhushan Bawankar who was posted on a six-hour nursing duty in the corona ward of the hospital. The duty is strenuous and exhaustive. Working with PPE kits feels like going out in the peak summer of May, laden with three fur coats in a car, with no AC and windows closed. You cannot eat, drink or urinate until the duty ends. You are completely drenched in sweat and there are times when drinking one’s own sweat brings you back to existence.”
“The war against corona is beyond merely Medicine”
says Dr Pooja Karad, an ENT resident who recently joined her duty after a two-week long quarantine. “Where there was no sun or moon, days cycled by with the duty scheduled and patients’ needs. I will never forget the sound of that alarm which signaled the first patient’s arrival in my ward. I was nervous. My heart started beating faster than usual and I could feel the surge of adrenaline rushing through my veins. She was a 21-year-old girl, shaken up with the stigma of being corona positive. Down there in the black hole of corona, our bonding with humanity grows and soon the slightest of fear transforms into an enormous motivation.”
“There is a palpable sense of anxiety”
“I was on my night duty when I was told that I would be posted in the corona unit the following morning. This was within a few hours from our hospital being declared as the first covid hospital of the district. I accepted it without flinching. My duty serves as a paramount purpose for me.”, told Mr Vinod Deodhe who attends critically ill patients in ICU. “Managing the dead bodies was the most difficult part”, he added.
Dr Sushila Nayar laid the founding stone of the institute based on Gandhiji’s Talisman: "Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away." Even during the current crisis, the institute and its staff find solace living up to Gandhi's teachings.
Lauding the services of these corona warriors, Shri Dhiru Bhai Mehta, President of Kasturba Health Society acknowledged, “During such unprecedented times, our hospital is doing a commendable service to the society, we are really proud of”.
Dr BS Garg, Secretary of Kasturba Health Society said, “Our healthcare workers are going above and beyond their call of duty, risking their lives and saving those affected.”
“There are at least 100 institutes that offer tests for Covid 19! MGIMS was among the early institutes that were approved by the government to conduct these tests and our lab strove hard to ensure that test results are returned quickly and efficiently", said Dr NM Gangane, Dean MGIMS.
“Our hospital blends science with ethics and morality while treating our patients. Our expertise will go a long way”, says Dr SP Kalantri, Medical Superintendent Kasturba Hospital.