Kolkata: At least 12 to 14 hours in hospital, minimum interaction with family members, specially parents, and working without leaves for over two months now — these are the circumstances under which Dr Saswati Sinha has been looking after Covid-19 patients at AMRI in Kolkata.
Sinha of AMRI’s critical care and internal medicine unit has been looking after Covid-19 patients ever since the outbreak reached Bengal in March.
She also led a team of doctors and nurses that helped in the ‘miraculous’ recovery of a 52-year-old Covid-19 patient, Netaidas Mukherjee, who was on ventilator for over a month.
‘God was with us’
Sinha said it was “extremely difficult” to bring Mukherjee, who was admitted to AMRI with breathing trouble, back to normalcy. He was in AMRI for a total of 42 days.
“The 42 days were the most critical time we had in the hospital as we knew it was an extremely difficult and complicated task to get him back to normal,” she said.
“He came to us in the advanced stage of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and then he tested positive for Covid. We were left with no option but to put him on a ventilator then,” said Sinha.
“It is true what the doctors worldwide are saying that chances are less than even one-third for a patient getting back to a normal respiratory system from full ventilator support. But as doctors we cannot lose hope. (And) We did not.
“The patient is also a fighter, he had extreme will to live. And most importantly, god was with us,” she added.
‘Corona has no proven cure, it needs good intensive care’
Sinha has been practising as a specialist of critical care and internal medicine for almost two decades now and she has served in several hospitals across the country.
She has foreign medical degrees and also worked in Australia on medical projects. She has been working with the AMRI for almost 12 years now.
While some senior doctors said that Sinha’s treatment and procedures in this particular case should be considered as a study to strengthen the Covid treatment protocol, Sinha told The Print, “We have not done anything out of protocol. We have followed the one given by AIIMS and here we have a West Bengal treatment protocol. So have stuck to the normal and standard protocols as we do in every case.
“This is a new disease and there is no proven treatment as of now. It needs a very good and supportive intensive care and symptomatic treatment. There is no second rule in this as of now,” she added.
AMRI, which was one of the first private hospitals designated to treat Covid patients in the state, witnesses a huge flow of infected patients everyday.
Sinha, who leads the teams of the doctors treating such patients, said, “All of us spend at least 14 hours in hospitals and almost more than 12 hours in PPE (personal protection equipment). Working in PPE is a bit challenging as it means one cannot have water and cannot go to the loo. It is also an extreme condition.
“We have divided the working hours in shifts and further reduced the hours for the nurses as they need to be in direct touch with the patients most of the time,” she added.
Sinha said once she goes home, she isolates herself from her family members.
“After reaching home, we straight walk to the washroom and almost isolate ourselves from family members. For over a month, all are living with minimum interaction with family. There is no scope of seeing parents and other senior citizens at home. Taking necessary precaution is of utmost necessity now,” she said.
Some AMRI doctors told ThePrint they have been working everyday without any break since mid-March.