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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 100-101

A microbiologist managing COVID-19 patients: Optimism amidst pessimism

Department of Microbiology, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission16-Apr-2022
Date of Acceptance01-May-2022
Date of Web Publication22-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Renu Gur
Department of Microbiology, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, New Delhi - 110 085
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpsic.jpsic_13_22

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In April 2021, amidst rising COVID-19 cases in Delhi with negativity all around, we all faced challenges. However, a microbiologist working on the forefront as a clinician with COVID-19 patients was scary as well, more so for patients. Starting a banquet hall as COVID care facility was full of hurdles which were gradually overcome with each other's cooperation and support. Variety of experiences during that duty made me a better version of myself both as a person and as a doctor.

Keywords: Biomedical waste management, COVID-19, infection control practices, management of COVID-19

How to cite this article:
Gupta N, Gur R, Makhijani S. A microbiologist managing COVID-19 patients: Optimism amidst pessimism. J Patient Saf Infect Control 2021;9:100-1

How to cite this URL:
Gupta N, Gur R, Makhijani S. A microbiologist managing COVID-19 patients: Optimism amidst pessimism. J Patient Saf Infect Control [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Jun 7];9:100-1. Available from: https://www.jpsiconline.com/text.asp?2021/9/3/100/351732

In the mid of April 2021, COVID-19 cases in Delhi were rising at an alarming rate. There was negativity all around. Daily we were hearing from friends, relatives and colleagues that someone had fallen sick, news highlighting black-marketing of anti-viral medications and oxygen cylinders, unavailability of hospital beds, depressing pictures and videos on social media. This added tremendous pressure on healthcare workers along with the new challenges being faced in the pandemic.

Suddenly, on a Saturday afternoon, while having lunch, I received an official order from the hospital for reporting immediately to a newly started COVID care facility in a banquet hall. Although this was supposed to be my second COVID care posting after the one during the first wave, I had a gut feeling that it was going to be more challenging. Yes, I was scared not just for myself but the patients as well! After all, they were going to be in the not so experienced hands of a microbiologist for the management of COVID-19.

The duty at banquet hall facility was nothing less than a scary roller coaster ride. From a microbiologist point of view, it was so difficult a situation as preparations were made for biomedical waste management and infection control practices in a haste. Every inadequacy or inability to follow proper guidelines made the microbiologist in me feel guilty. It was challenging; however, through consistent efforts and cooperation, we could make decent arrangements. Despite difficult logistics and shortage of staff and supplies, the arrangements were made to ensure proper segregation of biomedical waste as per guidelines,[1] timely collection of waste from the centre and adequate cleaning and disinfection of the patient care as well as non-patient care areas. Proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) had to be encouraged repeatedly.[2] The hot weather, sweating inside PPE, no air-conditioners, improper ventilation at banquet hall as it is usually used with centralised air-conditioning system for functions and stress of managing sick patients made me feel exhausted and dizzy almost every day. The extremes of heat and humidity made donning and doffing of PPE extremely difficult. But I maintained my composure and followed proper technique to prevent myself from getting infected. And I did not give up.

The clinician in me was little nervous and worried. The first lesson of my MBBS clinical postings “First do no harm” was constantly ringing in my ears. Although we were told that relatively stable patients having minimal oxygen requirements and not so deranged laboratory parameters would be admitted at our facility, SARS-CoV-2 variants wanted to play tough on us this time. Some patients were little stable and improved gradually to be discharged sooner or later, while some had to be shifted back to our hospital on emergency basis because of sudden deterioration. Every patient having even a mild de-saturation rang an alarming bell in our brains which sometimes even lead to palpitations if it continued to worsen. The supporting staff truly deserve a big gratitude for acting promptly, helping in managing the situation and making quick arrangements if it appeared out of our control. It was not this simple or easy as it now appears. There were situations such as patient calling police for not admitting patient without referral from hospital, some offering bribe to admit their patient, attendants of some patients knowingly or unknowingly eating food packages meant for patients, some not ready to go despite being discharged to name a few, which were probably not meant to be solved by the doctor but unfortunately had to get involved. Some issues could be resolved, but some were not in our control. The situation was giving me nightmares. The best part of serving the COVID-19 patients during this pandemic was refreshing my clinical knowledge and learning pros and cons of various medications and therapies available for the treatment of COVID-19. It proved extremely helpful as I could manage the COVID-19 treatment of some close relatives at their homes when physicians were not easily available for advice. Hence, apart from discharging my duty toward patients admitted in the healthcare facility, I could help many other patients sometimes with the help of my colleagues who are physicians.

From the perspective of an individual or a part of a family, I regret not being available to my family every time they needed my presence during the worsening pandemic situation. They were worried for my health too. The most emotional day during my COVID care duty was when I lost my maternal grandmother to COVID-19. She who was not able to get a hospital bed in a different city was being managed at home with telephonic advice. My family could not update me about my grandmother's deteriorating condition as I was on duty. When the duty ended I got the news after 2 h of her passing away. I could not even mourn her death. However, I could not afford to lose my integrity as some doctors or healthcare workers must have treated her too without caring for their own family. She wanted me to be a doctor and I could not let her down by not discharging my duty as a doctor.

This extraordinarily depressing situation gave me an opportunity to learn something new, taught me perseverance and to be more optimistic.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

CPCB Revision 4: Guidelines for Handling, Treatment and Disposal of Waste Generated during treatment/diagnosis/quarantine of COVID-19 patients. Central Pollution Control Board; 2020. Available from: https://cpcb.nic.in/uploads/Projects/Bio-Medical-Waste/BMW-GUIDELINES-COVID_1.pdf. [Last acessed on 2021 Jul 24].  Back to cited text no. 1
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/using-ppe.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Jul 25].  Back to cited text no. 2


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