Covid-19 – Doctors from 3 continents share their experiences spoke to several Bohra doctors around the world in the last week about their experiences with Covid-19. Although they face increasing difficulties they also speak of hope. A group of doctors in the UK posts a message of positivity to their whatsapp group every day.

A General Practitioner in Leicester, UK

The demand is slowly becoming overwhelming as we have 6 GPs in self isolation; today there will only be 2 of us at work whereas normally there would be 6 on a Tuesday.

The NHS 111 service is now redirecting all mild to moderate cases of suspected Covid-19 to GPs so we are seeing a growing number of patients coming our way, some of whom need seeing to exclude serious complications. Anxieties amongst colleagues are high as we have virtually no personal protection equipment at present, and are frantically trying to make arrangements to see these patients in ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ zones whilst somehow trying to ensure safety of staff and other patients.

On a positive note, we have seen a huge change in patient mentality – they are far more receptive to our advice and are embracing the concept of remote consultations. We will unfortunately see an enormous loss of life, every single one of which is a tragedy. However, the aftermath may leave us with a national health system that is more sustainable due to more appropriate patient use of services and a far more efficient way of delivering consultations.

Dr Mustafa Bohra, Physician, Michigan, USA

In my state of Michigan, the surge has picked up. We are starting to have trouble with ventilator supply and also supply of personal protective equipment (PPE); the sheer volume of hospitalised patients has caused a strain on local hospitals and has led to a great deal of stress on physicians and other health care workers.  Another area of concern is that the other conditions we normally test are still present and it has become difficult to focus attention on other problems. A lot of doctors and other health care workers are also always worried about bringing the disease home to their families. The social implications of quarantine and school closures have also led to increased anxiety on the domestic side.

Dr Murtaza Calcuttawala, Surgeon, London, UK

I am currently seeing surgical patients only. The Covid-19 patients are seen by my colleagues in separate cubicles due to the risk of aerosol spread. Suspected patients with dry cough, fever, weakness are tested in Hospital only.Swabs of suspected surgical patients are taken and isolated.  If positive, the patients are shifted to the medical team.

Is the hospital coping with the numbers so far?

There will be separate procedures for patients who need surgery. They are trying to cope by cancellation of routine surgery and discharge of patients having elective surgery. Only emergency surgical patients are admitted.

Dr Moiz Dungerwala, Consultant Haematoma-Oncologist, London, UK

As a Consultant Haematoma-Oncologist I’m continuing to look after patients with blood cancers with the added complication of worrying about Covid-19 infection and who to offer treatment to and who not. Patients with blood cancer who require urgent treatment (chemotherapy) are at greater risk of Covid-19 infection and should they become infected there is great concern it could be critical due to their suppressed immune system. However they also require life saving chemotherapy for their blood cancer. Difficult decisions and anxiety for patients and the treating medical team. 

The biggest problem is so many staff are going off work due to the need to self isolate either as they have developed symptoms or a close relative they live with has Covid-19 symptoms.

A number of the workforce have also been lost as they have medical conditions that require them to self isolate for 12 weeks due to Government instructions for the most vulnerable patients groups.

This is leaving NHS hospitals hugely stretched. We don’t have enough medical and nursing staff, and we are desperately short of test kits to test patients to see whether they have Covid-19 or not, leading to restrictions on testing for only those severe enough to require hospital admission.

I’m on standby to leave my usual job and join the Acute Medical team to look after the Covid-19 patients on a 12 hour shift pattern.

Dr Murtaza Hussain, Detroit, USA

Michigan has been in lockdown for a week and cases were going to the higher end of the curve. Michigan had the fourth highest number of cases at the time of speaking to Dr Hussain although the state was coping. Systems have been changed, his clinic had no more walk-in patients and triage took place in the parking lot outside with those not in need of immediate care being sent home and Covid patients sent to the nearest Covid hospital an hour away.

Dr Abbas Chopdawala, Pune Camp

My camp clinic is closed due to Covid fears from patients and shortage of staff. One staff member is living as a paying guest accommodation and her landlady refused to let her out to work in a clinic! Another had a rickshaw journey of an hour and would not have got return transport.

Instead I will be seeing patients at Inamdar Hospital or Taheri Clinic Wanowarie in emergencies.

Dr Shabbar Jamaly, Sweden

In Sweden patients are at home, staff come and go. In Sweden if you have symptoms you stay at home whether it is Covid-19 or normal influenza. Two patients of his showed Covid-19 symptoms of which one needed a pacemaker inserted so protective clothing and a mask were additional precautions taken at the time of surgery and similarly for the patient who needed post-operative care.

Dr Hamudi Kisat, Paediatrician, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Children are less affected so we have a separate area to see suspected cases. Only 3 proven so far. We are doing extra shifts as lots of staff are going off sick. Very stressful and risky.

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