After 25-year-old Dr Aditya Lal Vallath gave the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in January, he decided to take a short break from studies and work. But that was not to be.
The civic administration, which has been scouting around for doctors to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic, asked Dr Vallath, who had volunteered in Kerala during the 2018 floods, to help it set up a quarantine zone at Sanas ground.
With his expertise in disaster management and infection control, Dr Vallath, a graduate of Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College, started helping civic health officials in February. In the months since, as the number of coronavirus cases has risen, the civic administration, in its search for more medical professionals, has published advertisements for a minimum of 1,000 healthcare staff, and also urged young doctors to volunteer.
“I got the message and communicated with several friends… some agreed while others’ families did not want them to volunteer due to the risk of infection,” said Dr Vallath.
The doctors who volunteered included 25-year-old Dr Ravisha More and a senior doctor from the same college, Major Dr Prasun Mishra.
Dr More, who had also taken the NEET, and was a resident medical officer at Ruby Hall Clinic before she took a break, decided to respond to the call from civic health authorities. “My parents are worried, but my father has encouraged me to go and help people during these unusual times,” said Dr More.
At Naidu Hospital, these doctors have a heavy workday, where they start at 9 am and finish by 3 pm or 4 pm. They attend to patients at the OPD and also take rounds with senior doctors at the hospital, and at the wards where COVID-19 patients are admitted.
Apart from volunteering their services, this enterprising lot has also been engaged in designing protective masks. “… We consulted two engineers … Satyajeet Bhaskare and Sarabjeet Ratan… they printed the masks using 3D printers…,” said Dr Vallath.
Dr Sudhir Patsute, medical superintendent at Naidu Hospital, said. “It is really commendable that these have volunteered for free, despite unprecedented risks to personal safety. It is at times like these that the selflessness and sacrifices of our young medical fraternity comes to light and these young doctors are nothing short of warriors, fighting the battle day and night at the frontline”.
PMC faces shortage of healthcare staff
The civic administration is facing a shortage of healthcare staff, said Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad. According to civic health officials, posts of at least 150 doctors, 300 nurses and 300-400 Class III personnel were vacan
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