In this special episode dedicated to May Day 2020, RJ Padma Priya speaks with Dr. S Guruprasad, Assistant Professor in the Psychiatry Department at Bowring Hospital, about Isolation Wards.
Many staff members of the hospital left their jobs after the lockdown was announced. ‘Group D’ workers, i.e., cleaners and security personnel, don’t even know how to wear the PPE kits, so they are trained on how to use them. “These kits are very costly and we are not at a stage where we can afford to waste these kits; so they have to be used carefully. As everyone knows, air conditioners can’t be used in the isolation wards, so doctors, nurses, and other staff members wearing these kits will often feel suffocated. So, they are trained to do certain breathing exercises and told to be calm always because wearing these kits can build anxiety and breathing problems. This makes sure that they remove the kits only when they can absolutely no longer wear it.”
The first batch of duty starts at 9 am and ends at 3 pm, and during this time, doctors, nurses, cleaners, and helpers are not supposed to remove the PPE kits even to use the washroom or to drink water. “They have to finish every bodily need and only then enter the ward. After the work is done, they can remove the kit, bathe, and wear another set of clothes. But, they cannot go home. Every day is a challenge as these workers are fighting with a thing which we can’t see.”
The Psychiatry Department at Bowring Hospital is in constant touch with patients, doctors, and everyone else who works in the isolation ward to know of their mental health status and help them during this time.