Life of Health Care Professionals During COVID-19 Pandemic

 


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Origin of COVID

The highly infectious corona virus disease 2019(COVID 19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 ( SARS COV 2). It was first seen in Wuhan, Hubei, China during December 2019. Later on, 3 months later, on March 11 2020, WHO declared this as pandemic disease, infecting multiple countries and spreading all around the world.


COVID Cases

As of 15 August 2020, the total cases in India are 25,30,517 with 6,71,128 active cases and 18,09,731 recovered cases in India. Globally, there are 2,07,30,456 confirmed cases across 216 countries, which has led to 7,51,154 deaths in total.


Symptoms of COVID

Common symptoms of COVID 19 include fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, while severe cases may lead to pneumonia, multiple organ failure and even death. The incubation period is said to be between 1 and 14 days, however, the virus is contagious even before the symptoms appear.

 



Difficulties Faced by Health Care Professionals

Doctors and other health care professionals have been facing a lot of difficulties this pandemic. They have been going through a lot of stress and fear along with other mental health issues as well. Looking at hundreds of patients suffer right in front of them, makes them emotionally unstable. The only way to cope up with stress would be looking at the smile of recovered patients.

Sleep deprivation has been a common issue among the health care workers. Hospital to home, and then from home to hospital, with minimal rest due to extended work hours has been a major issue.

Since the doctors and other workers are in contact with hundreds the COVID positive patients everyday, they are more prone to get infected.

Staying quarantined after getting back home everyday after work, without being able to spend some quality time with family obviously affects their mental health.

Doctors and other workers, in spite of working for hours, without any break, don’t have the advantage of salary hike. In some countries, the doctors have been asked to purchase masks and other PPEs with their own money.

During work, after being covered with all the PPE for hours together, its been very hard for the workers to risk it all and to uncover themselves just to drink a sip of water or even to eat food. Hence, they end up starving for hours together without food or water.

The workers even face the problem of being unable to use the lavatory with the PPE on. Gladly, adult diapers have come to help.

The workers also get emotional on seeing the patients unable to recover in spite of all that hard work.

 

Risk of Infection

WHO reported that the risk of infection of the health care worker is 1 in 10 infected with corona virus in some countries. The health care workers are more prone to infection than the general population as they are frequently in contact with the infected patients.

In March 2020 in Italy, 9% of the total people infected with COVID were health workers.

In May 2020, the International Council of Nurses reported that at least 90,000 health care workers have been infected and more than 260 nurses died during the COVID 19 pandemic.

 

Deaths

Many deaths of doctors, nurses and other health care workers have been reported from various countries. It was reported that In May 2020, death of at least 260 nurses has taken place due to COVID 19. n March 2020, death of at least 50 doctors has taken place in Italy. On August 8th 2020, Indian Medical Council has reported that 198 doctors have died in India due to COVID 19

 

Psychological Impact

This pandemic has kept all the health care workers on various mental issues like stress, anxiety, depression, fear. Coming to the hospital every day to treat the patients has kept them in constant worries regarding the recovery of the patient. The rising cases every day have kept them in constant fear.

After hours of working, going under isolation without being able to see their family everyday has put them to such levels of depression. Being quarantined everyday makes them feel lonely as well.

Not being able to even differentiate between weekdays and weekends and constantly working so hard every minute has put them into so much stress. An Italian nurse committed suicide after being traumatized after saving the lives of hundreds of people who suffered every day.

 

Violence Against Health Care Workers

From the beginning of the pandemic, health care workers have been very passionate and supportive. They are the reason for the recovered cases until today. In spite of all that they are doing to help the society from the pandemic, many health care workers have been harmed, either verbally or physically.

In Libya, there had been destruction of the 400-bed facility. In some other countries, there had been incidents like violence, discrimination and harassment against doctors.

There are some incidents where the people have been asking doctors to vacate, who live next door or in the same flat, just to reduce the risk of infection from the doctors. The people have also physically harassed the doctor when they refused to vacate. 

 

Shortage of Health Care Workers and Equipment

With doctors and many other health care professionals getting infected by COVID 19, and with the sudden rise in number of cases, there has been shortage of health care professionals all around the world.

As a result, in many countries, retired health care workers have been asked to come out of their retirement and help, which is very crucial for them and increases their risk of infection as well.

Also, along with the rising number of infected COVID patients, there have been cases of shortage of hospital beds, N-95 face masks, face shield, and other equipment's as well.

There are also cases of reduced PPEs due to which the workers aren’t well covered and protected. This puts the lives of various workers at risk. Hence, they are more prone to infection. Also, along with the shortage of equipment, the rates of important things like masks and gloves have increased as well.

Therefore, WHO calls on industry and government to increase the manufacture of personal protective equipment by 40% to meet the rising demand.

 



World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation has come up with a few recommendations to decrease the spread of disease among the health care workers like training health care workers to identify any respiratory illness.

Also by providing all the personal protective equipment to the health care workers in order to protect themselves from any kind of infection. As well as providing psychological support to the workers and routinely conducting hospital surveillance.

 

Conclusion

Trapped for hours straight into the Personal protection equipment is tough. Fear of treating patients with the knowledge that they might get infected as well is tougher. Not able to meet and spend time with family is the toughest. In spite of all this, they agreed to and took up this profession.

The most difficult part for every Health Care Professional would be to choose between the family or the patient. Yet, they have voluntarily chosen patient over the family as this is what is the need for the hour.

Staying away from their family just to save of lives of people suffering is definitely not easy. Hence, All that we can do for them is stay home, stay hygienic and safe, with all the precautions.  Here is a description of few important precautions to be followed -

 

Precautions

WHO's advice to the public regarding precautions is – regularly and thoroughly washing hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water, to maintain at least 1-metre distance between yourself and others, avoid going to places, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, stay home, seek medical attention if experiencing symptoms and keep regularly updated regarding COVID 19.

 

Written by – Sandhya R

Edited by – Adrija Saha


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