Love in the time of COVID-19 and beyond

Respiratory infections
General respiratory patient care
Public health

Blog Author(s): Shahir Asfahan, ERS Member (India) / 27 March, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic is raging across the world. Healthcare professionals are at the forefront of this battle. Healthcare systems and personnel are being overstretched and overwhelmed.

The intricacies of the battle are being sorted and plans are being put in place. At a time like this, the policymakers and planners should keep the safety of healthcare workers as the top priority. The pandemic may pass eventually, but to keep the integrity of healthcare systems intact once that happens, we need every soldier at the start of the battle to be there at the other end to rebuild and reconstruct.

Healthcare workers may be seen as super-heroes by others, but they are humans at the end. They have families, loved ones and dependents. They have fears, emotions, and hopes. People making decisions for them should keep the doctrine of: "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you."

Although the medical field has a strict hierarchy since time immemorial, each person should think of their subordinates as if it was their family member before putting them in potentially dangerous situations. All protective equipment should be provided and all measures taken to ensure that the people taking care of this pandemic first hand emerge unscathed.

It is no secret that healthcare workers are known to put in hours of duty that no other profession can envisage. It is an open secret that all mechanisms to regulate the duty hours of junior doctors mostly exist only on paper. In many places, it may be due to the skewed doctor-patient ratio or the rigidity of systems that have existed for decades unwilling to change (1, 2). Whatever the reasons are, this is no time to grumble. Today we are probably facing the challenge of this century. Continuing the same way as before will put undue stress on the junior-most level of doctors working to save their patients. Stress is known to impair immunity and impaired immunity will affect the severity of any disease contracted during that period, and especially in this pandemic (3).

This is my appeal to colleagues in the war on COVID-19, to be compassionate to their colleagues and juniors and the front line healthcare workers and let us vow to protect every one of them, so that they can continue the yeoman service they are known for in the decades to come when this pandemic may hopefully be history.

References:

  1. Majumdar P. Resident evil [Online]. @businessline. [cited 2020 Mar 25]. Available from: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/know/resident-evil/article21987726.ece1
  2. Agrawal J, Rising JP. Resident Education and Patient Safety. Am Fam Physician. 2002 Oct 15;66(8):1569.
  3. Safety I of M (US) C on OGMT (Resident) H and WS to IP, Ulmer C, Wolman DM, Johns MME. Impact of Duty Hours on Resident Well-Being [Internet]. National Academies Press (US); 2009 [cited 2020 Mar 25]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK214939/

Blog disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the blogs and comments section do not reflect the opinions of the European Respiratory Society (ERS). ERS is also not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided within.