|The pandemic has affected healthcare workers hard. They are under constant stress, fearing they could become be a source of transmitting the corona virus to their families.|
“When you are a soldier, you have to go to war and are already mentally strong. The same is with the health sector. It’s not that the pandemic has made you strong. When you are in the health industry, you are already mentally strong,” said Dr Priya Kotur, a dietician working at the ESIC Model Hospital, Peenya.
When The Observer asked her how the pandemic has changed the way she works, she replied: “One has to adjust the schedule. The load on us is too much right now. We faced a lot more stress during the initial stage of the pandemic when people were reluctant to wear masks. We used to make them aware of the importance of social distancing, washing hands frequently and using face masks. Now, a lot of people have understood the value of wearing face masks….”
Women doctors fear spreading the infection to their families. They make sure to take extra care of themselves so that their families remain safe.
Dr Nilay Kumar, a physiotherapist at the ESIC hospital, said: “Even after wearing masks, gloves and headgear, many doctors working here have contracted Covid, including me. You cannot isolate yourself completely. Being the lady of the house, your family needs you and you need them.”
Talking about how the pandemic has affected her work routine, she shared: “Earlier, we used to see 3-4 patients together but now (see) only one patient at a time.” Many doctors tested positive and the workload considerably increased on the other doctors, adding to their stress and burden.”
Despite wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, many doctors contracted the virus and had to get themselves hospitalized. Being in the same ward with other Covid patients led to an increase in viral load.
Dr Kiran Singh, a Bengaluru dentist, said her interaction with patients has decreased. “Wearing masks, shields and headgear deteriorates your communication with patients.” Wearing extra masks and PPE kits sometimes causes suffocation. Even the doctors’ vision is compromised.
Asked how the pandemic has affected her way of work, she replied: “Our sterilization routine has not changed. Earlier, the room was sterilized and now also it’s been sterilized. (But) you always have that stress whether you are carrying the infection…. You can put your family at risk. Stress is always involved. You have to remain alert all the time. One cannot work freely as one used to earlier.”
Dr Astha Tripti, a Patna dentist and mother of a year-old child, said the pandemic has affected her a lot. “I always feel scared I might infect my baby…. This fear has created a distance between me and my child. I have double responsibilities as a mother and a dentist. I make sure to do justice to both. At times you feel overwhelmed, but it’s the same for all. You have to manage your routine accordingly.”
A study conducted by the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine using a self-administered questionnaire collected responses from 769 respondents. The results indicated that 35.2% of doctors had anxiety symptoms and 28.2% of doctors showed depressive symptoms.