Down with Covid-19 and a high fever, a senior doctor in SL Raheja Hospital has not stopped working. From his isolation room in the hospital, he uses a telephone to communicate with his team to chart and monitor the treatment protocol of the seven Covid-19 patients admitted at the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).
The intensivist, who was admitted to the hospital after he was found positive for the virus on May 28, monitors each patient through their test reports, decides what medication is to be administered to which patient, and also presides when to administer Tocilizumab to prevent cytokine storm, hospital sources said. Cytokine storm is a condition in a critical Covid-19 patient when their body’s immunity system starts attacking its own cells as it is not able to differentiate between the virus and human cells.
With an acute shortage of doctors — at least three doctors of SL Raheja Hospital have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and are currently undergoing treatment — the private hospital to limit infection spread had created a protocol of creating two separate medical teams for treating Covid-19 and non-Covid patients in the hospital.
“We all knew that at one point or another one of us will be infected. Hence, our team of experts created a protocol for infection control,” said Dr Hiren Ambegaonkar, CEO of SL Raheja Hospital, adding that the teams do not meet each other and work in different shifts, take different entry and exit routes, and different lifts. “Ideally, we would have wanted three shifts, but we did not have enough staff,” Ambegaonkar said.
The 140-bedded hospital is running with half its strength after several staffers, nurses and class IV employees stopped reporting to work. While all its 70 beds are full, it has a waiting list of 22 patients as on Saturday. With six doctors in each shift, the hospital is now trying to recruit eight more doctors, even if they are homoeopathy or Unani doctors, and 24 nurses, but has been unable to find interested candidates.
The hospital, majorly a cancer and diabetes centre, had started the use of telemedicine for most of its patients since March when the pandemic began. When the senior doctor first developed a fever, and a subsequent test confirmed he was Covid-19 positive, he had decided to continue using telemedicine to plug the staff shortage, hospital sources said.
“The intensivist will resume work on completing 14-day quarantine. He remains stable,” Ambegaonkar said.
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