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The corona virus is spreading rapidly in India and the hospitals are overloaded. The senior physician Dhiran Showri works in a clinic in the south of the country. He now has to distribute the scarce resources among his patients.
I started working at Campbell Mission Hospital in Jammalamadugu six months ago. This is one of the largest cities in the southern Indian district of Kadapa with around 90,000 inhabitants. For about three weeks we have been observing an exponential increase of almost 12,750 new Covid cases per day. So far there are no signs that the Covid pandemic is receding in our region.
31, is a doctor. He heads the Covid-19 ward at Campbell Mission Hospital Jammalamadugu in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
I started my career at Campbell Hospital as a senior physician in emergency and intensive care medicine. My usual day in the hospital usually started around 9 a.m. with first rounds in the emergency room, then in the intensive care unit. On a normal day, I worked six to eight hours, with Saturdays and Sundays off work. On rare occasions I have been called to an emergency.
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It's different today. I'm on call all day because of the pandemic. Right now my day starts at 6 a.m. with the primary question: How many patients will need oxygen today, how many patients will need an antiviral drug? My colleagues and I communicate through WhatsApp groups. We group all the cases that we have in the hospital. The groups are called "Covid Triage", "Covid Intensive Care Unit" and "Covid Station". This helps us see the situation, analyze a patient's condition, and allocate the resources available to those patients who will benefit most.
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My colleagues and I are constantly faced with the dilemma of deciding on patients who are showing no signs of recovery and who have little chance of survival. I am a trained doctor and have learned to save lives and relieve pain, not to calculate a risk-benefit ratio. I knew about triage methods and how to bring bad news to a patient. But the frequency with which I have had to do this from 6 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. for the past three weeks is alarming. This creates enormous emotional stress. Its hard.
We have been running out of oxygen for a few days - to such an extent that I have to calculate the exact oxygen requirement of each individual patient and compare it with our resources. I have to calculate the time we still have. Then I'll have to do everything in my power to organize oxygen before we run out of it. As a doctor, my main job is actually to monitor my patients regularly and to be there for them.
Patients sit on the floor
We lack beds. Every morning when I enter the hospital and pass the triage station, someone is sitting on the floor, at least one person. I never thought that I would ever experience such a dire need. We have professionals ready to help, but no resources. The number of suspected cases is increasing and increasing. We don't have any more capacity. We have to take on the difficult task of rejecting or redirecting seriously affected patients. They come to us full of trust, some were even born here. These are really the toughest times of my career. Right now I'm less of a doctor than a caregiver, administrator, social worker and life coach.Publishing offer
People come to us in a miserable condition that deteriorates very quickly. Still, I sometimes have to convince them of the need for treatment. This is very tedious, time-consuming and emotionally stressful. Delivering bad news is the new normal. This wave has spared no age group. We see the young, old, middle-aged, and even children equally affected. The death rate is high. Families were destroyed. I am sure that all of my colleagues across the medical community will agree that we have not yet seen the worst. It is all happening at an incredible rate and there is a lack of help. We cannot yet gauge the damage our nation will suffer.
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