Dr. Varun Phogat - Senior Resident Orthopaedic at Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital, New Delhi.
Dr. Varun Phogat recalls critical moments in their fight against Covid and highlights the importance of precaution in the pandemic.
The year 2020 started with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and slowly turned out to be a complete nightmare for the entire world with everyone fearing for their lives. Soon after it put the whole world into a state of complete lockdown causing the spread of scare and anxiety all over. While people were restricted to their homes, it’s only through the gallant service of doctors and healthcare professionals that the world has been able to tackle the effects of this viral infection. Doctors, nurses, paramedics all are working day and night to control the spread of the pandemic and save lives as much as possible.
“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we are facing challenges that we have never thought of. As Doctors, we have to make sure that no patient should suffer and at the same time take proper care and isolate ourselves so that we don’t spread the disease.” explains Dr. Varun Phogat, Senior Resident Orthopaedics, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital, New Delhi.
Dr. Phogat belongs to this new generation of doctors who keep their humane side above everything and dedicate themselves to serve people in need. “I want to help people in any way possible, this is why I find surgery very fascinating as I can help patients to be pain-free and walking on their own feet” shares Dr. Phogat.
The pandemic has altered all areas of medical practices forever & orthopaedic surgery practice was no exception. From treating the Covid patients, convincing the non- Covid patients to have their regular follow-ups to dealing with the delays in treatments due to postponements of elective surgeries. The doctors are trying to find their way through the situation to give their best to the patients. Lockdown and work from home increased orthopaedic problems induced by very little or no physical activity- Orthopaedic doctors are trying their best to adapt to the norms of the new normal.
While we celebrate the contributions of our doctors it is extremely necessary to understand their struggles and the feeling of humanity that keeps them going on. Dr. Phogat has been posted in the Covid-19 ward and he walked us through his experiences over the last few months.
Firstly, what made you decide to be a doctor?
It was my mother’s dream to become a doctor. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, she could not pursue medicine and gained her doctorate the other way by doing a Ph.D. But her dreams inspired me to become a doctor and as I started working and saw people in so much pain, I decided that I want to help them in any way possible. As my mentor always says ‘mobility is life’ and for me, there is nothing more satisfying than watching my patient walking pain-free.
How do you ensure the physical and mental well-being of your patients?
When a patient comes to the hospital, he has many fears so the very first thing I do is to ensure that the patient is in a sound state of mind and calm him down by assuring him that he will be given the best possible care and treatment. Here it is the responsibility of the doctor to explain the right and detailed information of illness, plan of treatment, and the path to recovery. Nothing heals a patient better and faster than a positive mindset of the patient.
COVID-19 has made doctors work day in and out. How was your experience about managing the situation and yet keeping calm and handling your patients tirelessly?
Since the pandemic started, we doctors are facing a situation that we have never imagined even in our worst nightmare. As the cases started rising, everyone started getting fearful about their health and safety but as doctors, we had to make sure that no patient should suffer. We also had to take proper care so that we don’t spread the disease to our family & as a preventive measure we even had to isolate ourselves completely.
As a doctor was it difficult to work in such adverse circumstances?
It was difficult as the pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for all front-line workers at all levels. Wearing PPE, N-95 mask, goggles, and the face shield for long hours, blurred vision due to misting of protective goggles made working very challenging. We almost had no breaks for even food or visit to the washroom which got us exhausted but we knew that we can’t stop as it may cost a patient’s life.
Post Covid the working scenario has changed worldwide. What changes you had to adapt to while treating patients?
The pandemic has affected everyone including doctors and medical professionals. For us, the protocols have changed and become stricter. Now we have to maintain social distance and at the same give the best possible treatment to the patient. Sanitiser, mask, and PPE kits have become essential even outside the OT. Being a known government hospital, we have a huge number of patients coming every day and at times it becomes very difficult to educate them about and hygiene and teach them the importance of social distancing. One of the major concerns for all of us is the delays happening in the treatments and neglected trauma patients. As the main focus is on treating COVID patients, the other treatments and surgeries are being neglected. One of the major concerns is the delays in treatment that have caused more trouble to people as what could have been treated easily at the primary stage may now cause more suffering. There will be a surge in morbidity and mortality due to other fatal diseases.
Now that people are either too scared to visit hospitals or have restricted means of transport how are you making treatments available to all your patients?
During the lockdown, it was extremely challenging to provide adequate treatment to my regular orthopaedic patients. Even today many of them are reluctant to come for their check-ups so, I am making sure that I am available to them through telecommunication or video calls without any extra charges.
Do you think telemedicine can replace
face-to-face diagnosis methods in the future?
Telemedicine or simply treating patients over video
call or tele-calls may be really helpful for the patient
and convenient for the doctors during the lockdown
but it cannot replace the conventional clinical examination
which will always stay gold standard.
There is a state of panic and fear amongst both the Covid and non-covid patients about getting infected. What is your advice to them?
The fear and vulnerability are due to the high infection and mortality rates. This is a new disease with no specific cure but my request to everyone is to follow all the COVID-19 protocols strictly. Even if you get infected by COVID-19 please don’t panic and take the immunity-boosting drugs & the prescribed drugs proactively. The moment you see any symptoms please contact your doctor or the nearest hospital and get yourself tested. Nothing works better than prevention and a very positive mindset. Use masks, sanitisers, maintain proper social distancing, and get vaccinated as soon as you can.
Due to long hours of work from home people are facing problems such as back pain shoulder pain etc. any advice on how can they avoid such situations?
Work from home has affected people mentally as well as physically. There is practically no or very less physical activity as people have to work sitting for long hours in the same posture. This is the main reason for backache so I advise people to keep a check on their posture by sitting upright and taking adequate breaks whenever possible. Even while working keep changing your positions and avoid sitting in the same posture for long hours.
Being a frontline Covid warrior how do you keep yourself healthy and stress-free while balancing work in personal life?
It’s a big challenge to be stress-free in the current situation but I try to do that by following a healthy lifestyle and diet. Wearing PPE kits for a long time can dehydrate you so along with a balanced diet I make sure to keep myself hydrated before wearing the PPE kit. I try to rest as much as possible and whenever possible so that I am always fresh and at my best while treating my patients. Whenever I am off duty, I talk to my family and friends or watch a movie to destress myself.
Giving out a message to all our readers, Dr. Phogat concludes “Get vaccinated, stay at home, maintain social distance, keep your hand sanitised and stay healthy mentally as well as physically.”
Amidst all these challenges, our doctors are committed to fighting this deadly pandemic. Their exceptional courage, heroic commitment, and relentless efforts are commendable and praise-worthy. Although the war against Covid-19 is still not over and we don’t know everything about the disease and its cure, when we look at young and responsible doctors like Dr. Varun Phogat, who worked selflessly to ensure that no one suffered, the only thing we feel is pure gratitude towards them for helping hundreds of people to win this battle of life and making us self-reliant and able to stand on our feet again.