Diaspora, EM Exclusive
Voices from the other side: Nagas tending to Covid-19 patients elsewhere
Menuse-O Max Khieya
Kohima, April 25 (EMN): “We are given seven days of continuous work, and (for) another 14 days we will go for quarantine because we are getting many patients,” said 30-year-old Dr. C Manpa Phom who is pursuing MD degree at Gandhi Medical College and Hamidia Hospital, Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
Despite the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, many healthcare workers from Nagaland are attending to Covid-19 patients at various healthcare centres across the country.
It has been three years since Phom last saw his family. “Since three years, I haven’t seen my mom and dad, my brother and my sisters except through video calls,” he told Eastern Mirror.
Phom is due to complete his degree in April and was planning on coming to Nagaland. But the Madhya Pradesh government has asked him to assist the hospitals there. “I am here now and I don’t know when to go (back to Nagaland).”
In Bhopal district, there are already 400 positive cases; and three Covid-19 designated centres. “One is already full, one is about to get full and the third one is our hospital (Gandhi Medical College),” Phom said.
The workers perform their duties for eight hours, from 7 am to 8 pm daily, for seven days in a week. After coming back from the hospital, they go straight to their respective active quarantine centres.
However, if one gets tested positive for the virus, then he or she will be admitted to the Covid-19 designated centres. The whole process takes 21 days.
Phom described how challenging it is to wear a proper PPE for eight hours where one is not allowed to drink, eat or even attend to nature’s call.
Also, he expressed concerns over the condition of medical facilities in Nagaland. “I’m just worried how the state is going to manage and with what facility the government of Nagaland is prepared,” he said, stating that “Nagaland has doctors but no proper equipment and setup”.
Kevizenuo Nyekha (30), a technologist under Microbiology department at North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) at Shillong in Meghalaya, informed that the lab in her institute has detected 12 positive cases so far.
Nyekha, who lives with her husband in Shillong, said she was not apprehensive about working at the lab because she follows safety measures. “When I come back home from the lab, I take bath immediately and put my clothes in the washing machine.”
Despite the challenges, she had this to say: “Why should we stay home if someone needs us? Now is the best time for us to give our best in whatever we do by contributing our part.”
Dr. Vephizo Keyho (32), who is currently undergoing a post-graduate training in the department of ENT at Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Imphal in Manipur, said he has not faced any difficulties while attending to the assignments given to him to handle Covid-19 related cases.
“When we go for screening, we get a full set of PPE (personal protection equipment). If we are not in the Covid designated areas, we get gloves, caps and masks,” he shared.
He said that every Outpatient Department (OPD) is converted into an emergency set up in most of the hospitals all over India. At the RIMS, they are running the emergency department 24×7 for the time being.
“There are some screening team while others are selected to attend to the Covid-19 positive patients,” he shared.
However, there are protocols and guidelines to follow. If any of the medical team members is exposed to Covid-19 positive patients, they are not allowed to come to the hospital.
Keyho explained that a separate isolated location is allotted to every medical team if any of its members are exposed to positive patients.
If the medical member does not develop suspected symptoms during the isolation period of two weeks, the person is allowed to come back to the hospital, he said.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic is a challenge for the doctors as ‘we are expected to give our best to fill the gap and save the society and the world as a whole’.
Dr. Hentok Phom, a senior medical officer at the Nagaland Control House Centre, Nagaland House in Delhi, said that he has been attending to ‘Naga patients with both Covid and non-Covid related cases with a medical team in Delhi’.
Phom, who has been working in the national capital for 30 years now, said as a medical professional there is no stigma against Covid-19 patients or those with suspected infections.
“As a medical professional, we have to justify our profession,” he said when asked what motivates him to serve the people.
Imnainla, a nursing officer at the Cardiothoracic Centre at AIIMS, in New Delhi said that there is “fear everywhere” but the institute is “well equipped”.
She said that even some of her colleagues were kept in quarantine.
Their shift is divided into seven groups where for three days, each team is into patient-care, taking turns while for another three days, they will be working from home, managing online appointments and meeting consultations, she informed.
However, for emergency cases, they are called to the hospital to work.
If a person is detected Covid-19 positive at the cardiology department, or if a Covid-19 patient is admitted, he or she is referred to the trauma centres and other places designated as Covid-19 centre, informed Imnainla.
She shared that one of the nursing staff was detected Covid-19 positive on being tested.
According to her, most of the staff from Northeast at AIIMs were working peacefully without experiencing any discrimination. “Everyone is willing to help,” she added.
Imnainla maintained that she adheres to safety measures at home and added that whenever she comes home, she would first clean up herself in their home designated washroom before attending to her kids after half-an-hour or so, wearing a mask.
Imnainla shared that the responsibility towards the nation and continued support and prayers from people motivates her to perform her duties. “It’s my duty and it’s the right time to work for the nation,” she said.