I have not seen a strange virus like this before,”says Dr Krishnamoorthy S., taking a break from the nonstop phone calls from nurses and relatives of patients discharged from the Covid-19 wards. A diabetologist and senior specialist in internal medicine, Krishnamoorthy is one of the doctors from Apollo Speciality Hospitals at Vanagaram, Chennai, who has been on the frontline since March. After his rounds, he takes calls from the Covid-19 wards on the fifth and sixth floor of the hospital, getting an update on the critical patients. His diligence often delays his lunch.
The virus clearly brought the world to its knees, but it has managed to pick itself up thanks to the relentless fight put up by doctors and health workers. And, they bore the brunt of it all for months.
Head nurse Carunia Bernard moves from ward to ward, overseeing her staff and checking in on patients. The air conditioning is switched off to avoid the spread of infection. Her face shield is fogged, and her PPE suit stuffy. She can barely see the path in front. Her two-layered face mask cuts the oxygen supply to her lungs by half. She runs to the window to get some air. “In the early days, we were scared of the virus,” says Bernard. “We were separated from family members. After each work schedule, we underwent mandatory quarantine.” Though she found it difficult in the beginning, she is “comfortable working in Covid-19 wards now”. The PPE suit is a must for all essential workers, from the food distributor and floor cleaner to the janitor, medical technicians, nurses and doctors. They cannot step out of the suit, or the Covid-19 ward, till their shift ends—not even to eat or to use the restroom. But their dedication is much appreciated. Bhadra Joy (name changed), 55, says it was the staff’s positive attitude that helped him recover within a week of admission.
Across the country, our hope for recovery lies in able hands like these.