Frontline Corona warriors - Story of an 'On duty Doctor'

By Jyothi Ganta

We have reached the point where not only the hospital staff but also the doctors in the hospital are facing difficulties in this pandemic. Suspicious looks from the society, not enough remuneration for their efforts, assault by relatives of the patients whom they try to help.

The Colourboard had an opportunity to talk to one such doctor who shared the difficulties faced by doctors while working in such crucial times.

Dr. Siddharth Nikam (28) is a registered duty doctor at Suvichar Hospital in Nasik. Though he studied deadly diseases that occurred in the past, he never thought he will witness a pandemic like COVID-19 in his career and the situation also brought many experiences to learn from.

He has been working continuously without taking any leave since the disease erupted 3 months ago but the hospital hasn’t even provided PPE Kit for any staff, instead 30% of his salary is being deducted every month.

All the doctors have to wear Operation Theatre (OT) dress, disposable gloves and masks to ensures their own safety.

He has refused to avail the service provided by the hospital to the staff for travelling home in an ambulance because the ambulance should be available for patients and emergency services that's why he prefers to travel on his own.

The health workers check the patients first in the ambulance itself before admitting to the hospital as the infection can spread to others within a couple of minutes. There are many people who hide the facts about being infected.

The patients with COVID-19 symptoms are sent to the civil hospital as directed by the government to not to treat such patients in private hospitals. Even if the patient approaches the hospital themselves having such symptoms, the hospital has been ordered to direct them to civil the Hospital.

Talking about the task given by Prime Minister Modi for people to clap and bang plates for appreciating the doctors, Dr Siddharth expressed that most of the doctors weren’t that happy from it as it did no good to us. Although it was a fun task for people who are bored sitting at home and many of them took it to another level like roaming on the streets, banging whatever they got, creating noise and chaos. It was dangerous and worsened the already difficult situation.

While asking about people going to Baba’s or praying to god and not going to doctors for treatment, he said “Nasik is a very religious place. Wherein Mumbai there are public toilets at every moving distance, Nasik has temples to pray at every few kilometres. I myself saw people going to Baba’s and not to the Hospitals.”

He expressed that it takes years of efforts and study to be a doctor. People should not believe in superstitious practices when it’s about health and well-being and consult a doctor.

There are many incidents of relatives of patients beating the doctors, even in the COVID-19 pandemic which had weakened the already sensitive healthcare system of the country.

As if the situation is not enough stressful, Dr. Siddharth was beaten up by a patient’s relatives who were not ready to pay the bill drawn by the hospital administration at the time of giving discharge to the patient. The situation worsened to the level that the police was called to handle the matter.

After this incident, Dr Siddharth's mother who always supported his choice of being a doctor and praised his work, asked him to quit his job.

He felt that many people in the society talk hateful about them for working in a hospital, here we see the hypocrisy of people who on social media praise doctors but in real life behave inhuman with them.

He arranged a program for the people in his society about how a person feels when they get such a negative response even after engaging in such life-risking and life-saving work.

Being a healthcare professional there is a higher chance of getting infected from the patients. When asked about what if such situation might arrive, he said, “There is nothing to fear about, as long as your immune system is strong and you are fit. But for people who already have chronic diseases, it is difficult to recover from these kinds of viruses.” He advised to trust the doctors, take medical treatment and follow the instructions properly to take precautions.

When asked about his choice of the profession and if he ever felt regression about it, he said, “I enjoy working for people. The smile on their faces after they get well brings satisfaction to me. Even though the money I get is less, I’m happy for helping and treating them.” He said that the doctors should never back off from helping people who come to them with a hope of getting well.

He also expressed concern about the patients who are left untreated and helpless during this pandemic due to the insufficient facilities.

Jyothi Ganta is an intern with The Colourboard. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Mass Media.

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