Medical staff on the frontline & Stigmatisation: Help us help you

Dr Romen Shinglai

Ukhrul Times interaction with Dr. Romen Shinglai. SUNDAY SPECIAL.

Manipur doctors and staffs say they work for hours and stay away from their families mostly. Dr. Romen Shinglai says, being a doctor is quite tough these days. It’s always about personal safety concerns. With the increasing number of cases in the state, stress level mounts and hence affects our sugar level and that makes us lethargic.

Under these circumstances, pressure is inevitable at work but all the more at home out of the fear of transmitting the virus to family members. It’s uneasy for me to be calm. We all worry about each other.

This is my biggest concern, the topic of Social Stigmatisation in our social interaction. Simply put, medical staffs are not welcomed. For instance, shopkeepers don’t seem happy to see doctors and nurses coming to buy grocery. It’s tough. I understand their concern, but this non verbal stigma, if you like, that hovers around in the mind of people we come in contact with outside work, is discouraging. We led normal life just like anyone else. After work, we go home, take a bath, go straight to our room and isolate ourself. And that is the routine – back and forth from home to work and vice versa. In the last four months of the world battling Covid-19, everyone by now knows what Covid-19 pandemic is: its symptoms, potential transmission areas, steps on precautions. But not much has been talked about Medical staffs in the frontline.

If you ask me, professionally, we give equal treatment and care for both Covid + and non Covid+ patients in hospitals. The treatment of non Covid patients is quite challenging as well. I think the authority should seek for a separate Covid Care Centre in the state. That would be a blessing for the medial staffs and the patients.

For precautionary measure, we sanitized medical facility OPDs, Emergency rooms, seats, tables, standard medical equipments, or anything after treating patients. The lack in supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a big concern among medical staffs. Putting on PPE is easy but there are certain rules and procedures in place while removing PPE because one carelessness could increase the exposure risk. An average duty work hour for us is 12 hours. The insufficiency in medical staffing from doctors, to nurses, attendants etc adds to longer working hours.

The one upside about the whole crisis is the number of high recovery rate. This is because most of the returnees are young and have good immunity. These past few days have been difficult especially because of the community transmission. We saw the state’s first death toll and sharp surge of fatality all in a span of three days. There is a greater risk for people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease or hypertension.

For your safety I would always recommend that you practice social distancing, wear mask, frequent washing of hands with soap, use of sanitizer on hands, at home, kitchen and staying at home.

I feel that fighting against Covid-19 pandemic calls for a team work from all walks of life. We must encourage, acknowledge and be grateful to each other for the different roles that we play to overcoming this unprecedented crisis. Stigmatisation won’t take us anywhere. On the contrary it will only diminish the morale of the medical staffs in the frontline. Be it small or a big role, we all have a role to defeat Covid-19. Do not stigmatise frontliners. Help us help you.
Stay home, stay safe!

With special thanks to all the medical staffs in Manipur and North East and to the incredible doctor Shinglai. Dr. Romen Shinglai is a medical officer at CHC Chakpikarong, Chandel.

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Dr Romen Shinglai chilling on a normal day

The Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) initial findings have revealed that 100 plus doctors have died, while 1500 plus doctors have been infected on Covid-19 duty in India.

An article in the European Respiratory Journal talks of high-risk emergency situations, where the doctor is subject to a number of competing duties:
1) a duty to patients
2) a duty to protect oneself from undue risk of harm
3) a duty to one’s family
4) a duty to colleagues whose workloads and risk of harm will increase in one’s absence and
5) a duty to society

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