CanSupport Frontliners: Doctors During Covid-19 Lockdown in India


An article by Dr. Ishita Gandhi, CanSupport Doctor

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

We are in the midst of a surreal global pandemic that none of us imagined we would be experiencing in our lifetime. Certainly, we will remember this as BC (Before Covid19) and AD (After Disaster). Amidst this pandemic of COVID-19, countries across the globe have taken drastic measures to contain the spread of Novel Coronavirus. Superpower countries like UK and US are also following what I would say is the initiative of the Indian Government – National Lockdown.

As India enters its 4th week of national lockdown it seems fit to know how this lockdown is having its toll on the soldiers at the frontline, the doctors of our country, especially for the treatment of non-COVID chronic illness patients. Unprecedented in its scale, (magnitudes in severity and duration than anything we can remember), it has brought out the worst and the best in us. Despite having a life as a normal human being, we doctors have to choose to take a high road for our patients. During the national lockdown, we cannot sit in the comfort of our houses but are on duty in the battlefields.

We come across a number of challenges in these difficult times. We are wearing masks and gowns whenever we are on duty, for our own safety and for our immunocompromised patients. The pledge we took when we got the title of doctor reminds us each day that we cannot visit our patients regularly as we are exposing them as well. But in the end, we also need to visit our patients, because they need us and rely on our words and actions. We struggle with this diabolical situation each day, every day in this lockdown.

Another challenge we face is that we have to constantly deal with the superstitions and misinformation that the patients have regarding the virus in spite of our explaining them that we are there if they need any thing and we will do every thing possible to help them in this situation, yet the anxiety doesn’t let them rest. So much so that, patients keep their present illness at bay in the fear of the virus.

Keeping all these aside we visit our needy patients, day after day. But this lockdown poses varied trouble in the form of seeking permission for visiting the patient’s house. At times we must tour the whole city because of the spread of the patients. Therefore, we need to seek special permission from the authorities to help them out.

Apart from this we constantly fear of our lives alongside our family members, due to the recent news which we hear on various platforms. Community spread may be denied by the authorities, yet it’s essential for us to be cautious. But we cater to all strata of patients. Some patients’ houses are so small wherein it is very difficult to maintain distance of even 1 metre. This increases our risk of getting infected from novel coronavirus, especially if we don’t know the situation of community spread of the region. And end of the day living with our families, we also expose them to the same risks.

Not only us, but our patients are also facing a number of problems amidst this lockdown. For starters the OPDs in hospitals are closed. This causes a problem with the patients as they are confused where they will go in need. Availability of medicines is also a constant challenge for them. In these difficult times, when some people cannot even afford their ration, procuring medicines is a herculean task. Other than this they also panic if they have any medical emergency as they are afraid of contracting the infection in the Emergency Rooms in hospitals.

But there is a rainbow in this rain. The upside among all this is the psychological support that the patients and their families receive from the doctors. We try to be available for any kind of emergency, if possible. They get the medicine they require at home because of our visits. We are available for them on call 24x7. Not only this, but through different telly-consultation and E-consulting we are able to reach where it is necessary for us to be present, comforting the patients that even in this pandemic doctors have not forgotten their duty, their pledge to be with them and help them in any which way possible. And at the end of the day, when satisfied patients give a smile with medicines in their hands and gratitude in their eyes, all these challenges seem worth it. Maybe this is why we doctors were born after all!