Meenkashi S, a nurse working with the civic body-run YCM Hospital, moves around in isolation wards tending to Covid-19 patients. She is among those spotted without PPE suits. “PPE suits are highly inconvenient and makes one sweat profusely. It is very difficult to keep them on for seven hours and perform your duty,” the nurse said when asked as to why she was not wearing a PPE suit. Her views are echoed by other nurses in the ward.
Not just nurses, even doctors in isolation wards prefer masks and face shields over PPE suits. “I think an N-95 mask and a face shield provide strong protection against Covid-19…,” said Dr Aniket Lathi, who is part of the team that gives plasma therapy to Covid-19 patients at the hospital.
Dr Lathi said PPE suits are mandatory in intensive care units where invasive and and non-invasive ventilators function. “But in isolation wards, there is no need for PPE suits.”
Stating that even the central government has issued guidelines on the use of PPE suits as well as face masks and shields, Dr Lathi said, “If a medical staff uses a mask and covers it with a face shield, then there is no need to wear PPE suits. In fact, face shields are an invention of India and is now being used by the medical community worldwide.”
Dr Lathi said wearing a PPE suit needs meticulous training. “There is a strict procedure to be followed while wearing and removing PPE suits. If it is not followed strictly, then chances of virus transmission are high.”
Dr Sharmila Gaikwad, a physician handling Covid-19 patients at the Aundh district hospital, said, “Our staffers have to feed the patients by removing their facemask. Face shields provide extra protection from the virus.”
Dr Shrikrishna Joshi of Lokmanya Hospital said, “We often get complaints about inconvenience a PPE kit cause the staffers. But if they are handling patients closely, PPE kits offer better protection.”
Dr Rajendra Wable, dean, YCM Hospital and Medical College, said as per the central government’s directives, medical staff who perform necessary procedure on Covid-19 patients should mandatorily wear PPE suits. “In every ward at YCM Hospital, there are four staffers. Two of them have to wear PPE suits as they are required to handle patients. Other two wear face masks and shields.”
Doctors also pointed out about carefully choosing face masks and shields. “…Valved mask are dangerous. They should not be used,” said Dr Sanjay Pathare of Ruby Hall Clinic.
Dr Sushrut Ganpule, consultant, chest physician, Jupiter Hospital, Pune, said, “A face shield is an important part of personal protective equipment. Even for medical professionals it works well as it keeps larger aerosols at bay and reduce the chances of catching infection… We should be careful while using face shields and should not touch face or nose while wearing or removing them.”
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