Doctors Treating COVID Patients Open Up About Their Own Mental Stress

New Delhi: Unending working hours, patients die every day or family members pleading to save their lives – all this is taking a toll on the mental health of doctors on COVID duty in Delhi hospitals.

Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals here, said the daily cases count dropping in the last few days has come as a breather as it was an “absolute nightmare” in the COVID wards before. “We are trained as doctors to handle pain and deaths in front of us, but the sheer number of fatalities every day, when you see your patients in unbearable pain or their relatives pleading to save their lives or when they are struggling on ventilators, one feels helpless against this raging virus,” he told PTI, News18 reported.

Himself a COVID survivor who was infected last year, Chatterjee told PTI that the last 20-25 days of his job has “changed his life”. “We are hardened professionals but we are also humans at the end of the day, and to see our own colleagues and family friends suffering in pain and then die with such a severity and frequency, it became unbearable,” he recalled.

The senior doctor at the Apollo facility in Sarita Vihar said his daughter was infected this year too despite testing positive last year, and his in-laws too were hit by the pandemic. “With such heavy-duty stretching to about 15 hours, in wards and over phones, and lately the SOS calls would just not end day and night, and also reading about beds and oxygen crisis, as a doctor, we were stretched both physically and mentally and these last couple of weeks have been very agonising,” he was quoted as saying.

The wave which began late March, spiralled up with over 28,000 cases being recorded on April 20. The national capital had reported a record 448 COVID-19 deaths in a day and 18,043 cases on May 3. Medical experts say while lockdown majorly has brought down the count of daily cases, but the severity of cases is still the same.

“I have a very positive frame of mind, so it helps, plus having been a COVID survivor myself, I understand my patients better and empathise with them,” Chatterjee was quoted as saying. Apart from doctors and nurses, laboratory technicians, collecting COVID samples also have emotional tales to tell.

“I pick up samples in south Delhi, and up until last few days, it was mayhem in Delhi. We were picking 18-20 samples in a day, which has now reduced to about half of that number. Many families, I went to for collecting samples for mite tests or repeat tests, had their members struggling in hospitals or already dead,” Sanjeev Kumar Mishra, a city-based lab technician, who has a franchise for a leading private lab was quoted as saying. “Many of these families, I know them by faces and names. Life has been tough, but this pandemic also connected us humans,” he added.

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