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It was an experience of a lifetime: COVID-19 warriors

By Arindam Gupta

SILCHAR, April 27 - Over the past fortnight, Dr Daemi Nongtdu and Dr Rajneel Bhattacharjee have been away from their parents.

The two doctors, at a very young age were at a crucial juncture of their medical careers as they were a part of the first batch to attend and treat the COVID-19 positive patients including Assam�s first positive case at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) which was transformed into a COVID-19 hospital.

Recently, the first batch of 11 doctors along with nurses and paramedics completed their mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine and they were felicitated by the State Government for their services to humanity.

The two COVID-19 medical warriors who are now on home quarantine shared their experiences with The Assam Tribune of working and treating the positive cases.

�It has been an experience of a lifetime for me and all of us in the team to deal with COVID-19 patients. It was a new thing for us but we were mentally prepared to encounter the situation with whatever resources we had. We knew, we shall get through this situation. We could attend to the first positive patient of the State and to see him stable and also see the curve of cases flattening is the best feeling as a doctor. I pray that he recovers soon,� said Daemi, who has been rendering duties at the Department of Medicine at SMCH.

Asked how difficult it was to wear the Personal Protective Equipment, (PPE) for long hours, Daemi replied that although it was difficult at the start, but since they had to protect themselves first, the eight-hour long schedule with the PPE kit gradually became an adjustable chore.

�My mind was calm and ready for the job with the PPE. The objective was to attend the patient while ensuring self protection,� she added.

Staying way from home at Khiliehriat in East Jayantia Hills district of Meghalaya, Daemi got constant motivation from her parents over phone. �After my duty shift, my parents used call me and enquire about my health and safety. They kept reminding me of my oath taken to serve the people and asked me to take precautions. I felt happy and inspired,� Dr Daemi said with a smile.

Dr Rajneel Bhattacharjee from the Department of Opthalmology, and a resident of Das Colony here had similar views. He said, �wearing the PPE kit for eight hours was a tough task, but our duty kept us motivated. There is a method to wear and put off the kit and we followed that with great caution to avert any risk of contamination. We maintained social distancing while treating the patient and I am feeling glad to have served the community during this period of crisis. The patient was cooperative and followed whatever was told to him.�

Speaking about reactions from his parents, Dr Rajneel said that his mother was his constant source of motivation. �My parents were worried. Yet, they motivated me saying that I was in a battlefield doing my duty to save lives.�

Asked whether they faced any mental fatigue or strain at work or even during the institutional quarantine period, Dr Daemi and Dr Rajneel said that at the primary stage when the first case just got admitted, mentally it became taxing for all to deal with the situation but after encountering the situation, they have become mentally tough to face more challenging life-saving tasks.

The doctors expressed their gratitude to the Government, Minister of Health Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma and medical fraternity of SMCH led by Dr Babul Bezbaruah, the principal for all the hardwork, inspiration and support in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

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