‘A political murder, total chaos’: Doctors describe India’s Covid hell

Doctors, stress, Covid, coronavirus,
As people thronged hospitals with Covid-19, oxygen shortage and disruption in supply emerged as a new issue, and doctors had to run after everything | Photo - iStock

At midnight on April 23, Dr Pankaj Solanki, a general surgeon running a 50-bedded hospital in Rohini, Delhi, had a nightmare. By then he had worked 42 hours continuously without sleep and his team of health professionals was running around for oxygen.

Solanki’s hospital, Dharamveer Solanki Multispeciality Hospital, had 10 ICU beds dedicated for COVID-19 patients, and he could not manage without oxygen supply. His patients on oxygen support included a 30-year-old working professional, a pregnant woman, and another patient having a two-year-old daughter.

Two weeks earlier, when the hospital started to receive about 500-600 calls daily seeking hospital beds, Solanki knew things were going to get worse. He had informed his regular suppliers of the situation and they too were aware things would turn ugly soon.

When the crisis struck, the suppliers left him high and dry. And many staff did not turn up for work fearing contraction of Covid-19. Solanki found himself managing the oxygen supply, treating patients, handling calls from anxious attendees of patients, caring for his infected staff and himself—unable to sleep for 42 hours straight.

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