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Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane, Infectious Disease Specialist- Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore

Team YourStory

Dr Pruthesh Narendra Dhekane, one of the youngest doctors at Fortis Hospitals, has been serving in the COVID ward. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, he has actively managed patients of all categories – mild, moderate, severe, working on a daily basis in COVID units. Dr Pruthu puts in long tedious hours each day, compromising on his personal hours as well, to ensure the well-being of the patients affected with COVID 19.

This week, in an interview with YourStory, he shares his journey of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

YourStory: How are you and your team fighting COVID-19?

Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane: We are fighting COVID-19 as a team. We have a team of Infectious disease specialists, pulmonologists, critical care specialists, resident doctors, and most importantly, dedicated and committed staff nurses who are working day and night towards patient care. It is the team effort that gives the best possible outcomes and fosters an environment that is suitable for constant improvement. 

We understand that with the collective effort and continuous support of our healthcare workers, we can surely win the fight against COVID-19.

YourStory: What’s a day like for you these past few weeks?

Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane: A day starts as a day and we never know when it ends. By the time we leave the hospital, it is always late at night. As all of us know, the second wave has hit the country severely. The number of cases has increased a lot and we are seeing about 130 admitted patients every day in our covid ward and ICU. This involves the standard usage of full PPE kits and taking rounds in covid wards and ICUs. It is not easy working for 6+ hours in that outfit, fighting sweat, mist, mild suffocation, and still making correct clinical decisions, along with performing complex procedures and talking to patients to assure them they are fine, making them feel better.

When we finish our covid duty, we have to answer a lot of anxious queries of the patients’ relatives as well as do some paperwork for the same. Thus, it is a tedious process.

After doffing off in the covid ward, I rush to attend to the non-covid patients in the OPDs, followed by some video consultations. Additionally, I go on rounds to check on patients who have developed post covid complications. I agree that my days are extremely busy with no proper time for food and rest, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience working so much every day so that we can save the lives of people.

The COVID-19 team at Fortis during Christmas 2020

YourStory: What did you have to do differently in this second wave?

Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane: For the second wave, most of the basic regime of treating covid and following infection control practices remain the same, but the presentation of patients regarding the timing of symptoms, younger age groups being affected and their varied symptoms are different from last time. So being able to diagnose covid with this different presentation and some atypical features is a challenge.

Also, with the shortage of many medications and oxygen, which wasn't so much last year, managing patients is challenging. Using alternative medicines, dosage alterations, close monitoring for side effects, optimizing oxygen usage, and trying to procure medications from outside is something that makes life more difficult for us

YourStory: What has this experience taught you?

Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane: This experience has definitely taught us that prevention is always better than cure. Most people had let down their guard and social behavior which is the usage of masks, physical distancing, and hand wash, which went for a toss. These have mainly contributed to the second wave along with some changes in the virus pattern. Therefore, infection control practices are something that should never be missed even if the number of cases has reduced. If we don't do this, we will have to face the third wave very soon.

Also, from the medical front, we need to be prepared for such an explosion of cases, if it occurs again. We need to ramp up our medication stocks, oxygen supplies and keep the logistics ready for any pandemic like this if it happens again.

YourStory: What or who has inspired hope and light in these grim times?

Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane: The satisfaction of seeing a patient recovering from covid and the receipt of appreciation from them and their loved ones is the strongest motivation for us for continuing to work more. Continuous support from family, friends, and professional colleagues also help to keep you going.

YourStory: What would be your message to the nation or other frontline workers?

Dr Pruthu Narendra Dhekane: As a citizen and a healthcare professional, I would like to request everyone to continue wearing masks, maintain social distance, avoid crowding and use hand hygiene throughout this year if not longer. Once the lockdown lifts, I request people to resume their activities by following covid appropriate behavior, or else we will definitely have a third wave followed by another lockdown.

For my frontline workers, I would like to convey a big thank you, for whatever they have done so far. It is only because of their continuous efforts that we are being able to fight this pandemic efficiently.

Also, I would like to tell that it’s not over yet, so please take care of yourselves, stay healthy, eat properly, and follow infection control practices so that you don't fall prey to covid.

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#TogetherWeCan | #Covid19Tributes

If you’d like to share your tribute for a loved one you lost to COVID-19, or salute the efforts of healthcare workers and those on the frontlines, please fill up this form. We will try our best to include every tribute but request your patience and understanding if we’re unable to do this for all. Please be assured that your tributes will be regarded with the utmost respect that is due.