All news platforms are filled with the coronavirus news these days. Since past almost 5 months now, we’ve been listening to anything everything about the coronavirus only. Messages are being spread across social media about what to do, what not to do and everyone has become a doctor qualified by the WhatsApp university. So, to clear all your doubts about the spreading rumors, All About Seniors conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Pratibha Gogia.
Dr. Pratibha Gogia is the senior consultant and the department head of Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at the Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka sector -18, New delhi. With her extensive experience of 20 years in the field of Respiratory diseases, she is now among the frontline warriors of COVID-19.
Q1). Ma’am since you’ve been a COVID-19 frontline warrior, can you brief us about the ground reality of the situation right now?
Ans. The ground reality is very clear from the numbers being shown on news. Approximately 2,200 cases were in Delhi only on 12th June, the numbers of deaths are also increasing. As a hospital catering to coronavirus patients, we are having more and more numbers now. The way things are going, like they have happened in USA, UK and other places that initially the number increases because the only problem with this virus is that it is highly infectious.
If you don’t take proper precautions, it is going to spread even more. The way the numbers are increasing, it won’t be surprising if soon we see the peak in number of cases. Reasons can be several, the lockdown has been removed, people are meeting with each other and they are not following the basic protocols of social distancing, wearing masks and sanitization.
Q2). As you mentioned ma’am that the lockdown has been removed, is it one of the main reasons of increasing coronavirus patients?
Ans. I can’t say that because you cannot hold the lockdown throughout your life. Someday, the city must open for economic purposes, personal needs, financial needs and there are many other factors. The only thing is that you must be stringent with the precautions of social distancing, masking and sanitization. You see, there are so many layers in the Indian society, there are people actually following all the rules and regulations and then there are also people who don’t even care to wear a simple mask. Permanent lockdown is not the solution, maybe partial lockdown and restrictions can still be imposed, but the only practical answer is precaution.
Q3). Are there any expectations from the government or the research institutions about the coronavirus vaccine coming out anytime soon?
Ans. Vaccines take years to develop. I am a medical person, I know how the research goes. With the increasing technology, quick exchange of knowledge and AI, it might be faster but still not less than a year minimum. Coronavirus vaccine indeed is a positive solution, but we cannot expect it to happen over few weeks or months. It is a rigorous process of extreme research, stringent testing, acknowledging the side effects before we can subject people to it. Vaccine is an answer but there no such time frame of reaching to that answer. We can only hope to get it soon, but how soon, no body can answer.
Q4). What are the problems being faced by the doctors in such dreading situation? How are you taking care of your health and balancing work and personal life?
Ans. I am taking all the necessary precautions. I mingle with the patients in proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, wash hands at regular intervals. I barely wear my home clothes at the hospital. Things are so bad that doctors hardly even get time to eat food. After all, we are also humans who get tired after 5 months of working this hard without a break. The situation is tough, and it seems to be going tougher day by day.
I am a senior consultant, so I probably wear the PPE kit for 2-3 hours, but the ground level staff, my nurses and the other health helpers, once they get into the kits, they have to wear them for straight 6-8 hours. It is not a very pleasant idea to eat and drink in a PPE.
I feel it’s a constant duty on my shoulders to motivate myself and my staff because people come to us with hope in their hearts that we will treat them, and we cannot even let ourselves loose hope even a percent in such situation.
Q5). Since the coronavirus mainly attacks the respiratory system of the affected individual, what is the healthy oxygen level and what are the oxygen levels in the patients? Also, how can one check their oxygen levels at home?
Ans. We breathe in from 21% of oxygen from atmosphere and we maintain a saturation or oxygen level of more than 97-98. When a person gets affected with the coronavirus and they prefer to stay at home, we ask them to measure their oxygen level with the help of a simple instrument called Pulse Oximeter. If their saturation goes below 94, we ask them to report to the hospital.
Q6). The unavailability of ventilators has also been a serious concern these days. So, is it only the ventilator support that is helping in the treatment or are there other things as well?
Ans. There’s no proven medication till date. All the medicines we are using have shown some benefits, but how effective they are in the long run, nobody knows. Once the lungs become solid, we call them Acute Lung Injury or ARDS – Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, we must support the lungs in such condition, the ventilator is the support till they start working on the own. So, ventilator is the only answer when the lungs are damaged, there is no medicine for that. There are few medications, but the ventilator support is essential.
Q7). Is it possible for a coronavirus patient to get cured at home only?
Ans. Absolutely yes. Out of 100 about 60 of them can get cured at home. We only advise hospital admission if their X-ray shows patches, their oxygen levels go down than 94, if they are old or have illness like cancer or diabetes. Otherwise, most of the people can get cured at home with proper practice of home isolation. They just have to maintain proper distance from the family members. Their room and washroom should be separated from others. Only one person should take care of the patient with medicines and food so that the virus doesn’t spread in the family.
Q8). If someone has a COVID patient in their home, how can the other family members safely take care of the patient?
Ans. The family members can take Hydroxychloroquine prophylactic protocol, but only under the supervision of a doctor and not on their own. Otherwise, have a healthy life style, eat at proper intervals, and exercise.
Q9). There is increasing scare among people. Even when someone gets normal fever or seasonal cold/cough, people fear it might be the virus. In such a situation, how can anyone know when is the right time to approach the doctor?
Ans. We understand its very difficult for anyone to figure out if they have the virus or not at home. If anyone has breathing problems, prolonged fever with dry cough which don’t go away in few days like the seasonal flu, then they must consult a doctor immediately because there no wat at home one can tell themselves if they are affected with the virus or not.
Q10). How is the hospital taking care of its routine patients who have health issues other than COVID-19?
Ans. The hospital has segregated the wards, lifts and the staff, everything is segregated. We have a total of 10 floors at our hospital out of which 3 are completely isolated for coronavirus patients and the remaining 7 are open for patients of any other health issue. 2 lifts are allotted to these 3 floors only and they don’t stop at any other floor. Expect from the nurses, staff and doctors allotted the coronavirus patients’ responsibility, no other person is allowed on the assigned floors. Attendants aren’t allowed to meet the patients. We have allowed the patients to keep their phones with them, but they are not allowed to meet anyone.
People with serious illness of maybe heart disease, cancer or diabetes which are at higher risks of catching the virus, we do regular screening and at the slightest of doubt we conduct their tests. Patient safety is our biggest concern these and we are doing anything and everything so that the non-corona patients don’t come in contact the corona patients.
Q11). What would be your suggestions for the people to handle the situations in a better, composed way?
Ans. My only suggestion to people will be to just not loose hope. I would also want to emphasize the fact again that do not venture out until it is absolutely necessary. Maintain proper social distancing and always come out wearing masks.
Also, it is the responsibility of everyone to educate people about the precautions. There are fruit and vegetable vendors out on streets without masks, so as a responsible citizen it is our duty to give them masks and tell them how important it is to wear them. Dissipation of right knowledge about the precautions is the key to fight this battle.
Can homeopathy treat COVID-19? Read in an exclusive interview with Homeopath Dr. Naval Kumar Verma, Hon. Advisor to Ministry Of AYUSH
All About Seniors request each and every person out there to not believe in any rumors and not take any medication without consulting a registered medical practitioner. We are all in this fight together. Our doctors are working selflessly day and night for our health only, the least we can do to appreciate their efforts is by taking all necessary precautions. STAY SAFE, STAY HEALTHY AND STAY AT HOME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.