Dr Manoj Goel, Director Pulmonology Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram has so far treated six patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, of which three have been discharged and are currently quarantined at home.
In this article Dr Goel speaks to The Better India about what happens from the time one tests positive until it is time for them to be discharged.
“To begin with, as per the government order, as of now, anybody who tests positive for COVID-19 has to get admitted,” says Dr Goel.
Most often patients come in with one or more symptoms, which may include – cough, fever, or even breathing difficulty.
“As soon as we establish that a patient has tested positive for COVID-19, we carry out some more baseline investigations, which may include a blood test and a chest x-ray. Following this the patient is put into an isolation ward,” informs Dr Goel.
What are Isolation Wards?
The isolation ward is an exclusive area that hospitals have cordoned off to treat COVID-19 patients alone. “Once the patient is inside the isolation ward, we monitor all their vitals in a controlled environment through both general medication as well as individual treatment,” he shares.
Not just this, Dr Goel also speaks about the protective gear that the medical personnel put on before entering the isolation ward. “What we wear is a sort of spacesuit, which is airtight. All of us, doctors, nurses, and the para-medical staff wear this. Once we put this on in at the start of our shift, we remain in it for eight hours.”
Also, while wearing this suit, the staff cannot eat, or drink, visit the washroom, or even take it off for a few minutes in between. “For the entire duration of our shift, we are in it. All we do is look after the patients inside the isolation ward,” explains Dr Goel.
When is it Safe for the Patient to go Home?
“Once the patient is asymptomatic for three days (72 hours) we collect samples again to test and after we get two consecutive negative samples, we discharge the patient,” says Dr Goel.
However, even after discharge, the doctors advise the patient remain in home quarantine for at least 14 days following which they are advised to be cautious for another 14 days, which includes wearing a mask if stepping out.
“So at least for 28 days after the test reports are negative, we advise that patients remain under isolation and cautious,” says Dr Goel.
Being in the Isolation Ward
“At present we have patients in need of various degrees of care being placed together in the isolation ward. The ward in itself is self-sufficient; as we have everything we need inside. From ventilators to monitoring devices,” says Dr Goel.
Shedding light on the diet that is usually prescribed to patients of COVID-19, he says, “They are given a very balanced nutritious diet, which is rich in proteins including fruits and juices. While there is nothing specific they can or cannot eat, we just ensure that the food being prepared and served is wholesome.”
The Mental Well-Being of the Patient
“In most cases, we have seen that the patient and the immediate family have tremendous faith in the team of medical professionals who are treating the patient. That helps to a great extent. Other than that, we ensure that we counsel not just the patient but also the family, who, in most cases, cannot visit and have no idea as to how the patient is coping.”
Since even the family members are under home-quarantine, there is not much scope for interaction between them. “However, we do encourage them to video call and use technology to stay in touch during these difficult times,” he says.
The doctors also ensure that the family is apprised of the situation and are kept in the know of what is happening with the patients.
“Initially, when the patients come to us they are very apprehensive and even scared of what COVID-19 might be all about it. However, with repeated counselling, the patient’s fear are allayed,” says Dr Goel.
How Does the Medical Team Stay Motivated?
“The medical fraternity started preparing for this since the time we heard about the outbreak in China. We knew it would spread to the rest of the world and we started mentally preparing ourselves as well to deal with the sudden outburst,” says Dr Goel.
“We are not scared of COVID-19,” he says and continues, “Not just me, but the entire staff at the hospital knows what we are dealing with. Whether it is the administration or the support staff, we are all on the same page.”
It has taken a lot of hard work but Dr Goel feels that the spirit of each member at the hospital is very high and they are more than ready to fight this. “Stay home and stay safe,” he says as we conclude our conversation.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)