How doctors and nurses go out of their way to connect patients with families

MUMBAI: In these times of Covid-19 numbness, the stressed, fraught medical fraternity and the fears and rigor involved in treating a highly contagious disease have not lost touch with their most caring side.

In early April, Dr. Hiren Ambegaonkar, CEO of SL Raheja Mahim Hospital, signed on as the closest relative at the Shivaji Park crematorium for the first victim of the Covid-19 hospital, dealing with the final rites and coming home to 3 am. “The patient was a businessman in his sixties. His children were trapped abroad and his wife, a cancer survivor, was unable to reach our hospital when she died around 11 p.m., Ambegaonkar said. Uncomfortable with handing over the body to BMC workers, he intervened. The patient's family was unable to do so due to the circumstances, it is the least we can do, Ambegaonkar said.

When Narmada Kankani, 86, of Pali Hill was admitted to the same hospital ICU with Covid-19, her inability to handle mobile phones was an additional concern for her family in the confinement. But the young nurses and doctors did more than just treat her lower respiratory infection: They connected Kankani with her son or granddaughter daily during their 12-day stay.

ICU video calls allow family members to see patients on the ventilator

The Bahuva family of Malad fondly remembers' Dr. Darshana 'because he called them at 11 am every day to give them an update on their father, Dhiraj, a 68-year-old doctor who received oxygen for most of his 14-day stay. in the Sir HN Reliance Hospitalrun room at the Seven Hills Hospital of BMC, Andheri. A nurse would also call at night, said Dr. Bahuva's son.

The grateful Dr. Bahuva got a hospital employee to click on a typical photograph of Covid-19, the patient flanked by the treating doctors in his personal protective equipment, although he cannot recognize them as he had never seen them without their masks.

The Covid-19 outbreak is forging unexpected connections between patient caregivers and their concerned families. What is otherwise a duty, hospitals must update families about ICU patients, now it is done with a personal touch, often through video calls.

In some cases, we use a tablet to allow family members to see patients, especially the elderly or those connected to oxygen cylinders or ventilators, said Joy Chakraborthy, director of operations at Hinduja Hospital, Mahim.

Unfortunately, the staff of overburdened public hospitals serving the majority of Covid-19 patients have had little time to add a more personal touch.

I noticed that most patients have their own mobile phones and are still talking, said a senior doctor.

Regarding ventilator patients, a BMC official said the updates are provided from the communication desk at the hospital in question.

Even during regular hours, telephones are not allowed in our ICUs, said an intensivist from a public hospital. We were busy on non-Covid-19 days and now we are busier, making it difficult to communicate with family members with an update, a doctor added.

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