[Special Interview] Shovana - We all need to be responsible during this pandemic
Joining me today is Shovana from Nepal, who writes Fall in love inside a novel! at Goodnovel.
However, this interview will be about her current experiences as a doctor during this difficult pandemic right now. The hardships that she goes through i.e moving out of her parent’s home or having to only sleep 3-4 hours a day due to the busy schedule. Her experience may feel surreal for us who have not been affected by the virus but it is very real.
Please help by signing the petition on Change.org to stop violence against doctors. Thank you.
For previous interviews with authors, please click here .
By Alex N.
September 8, 2020
Interviewer: Hello Shovana, so lets start off with an introduction.
Shovana: My name is Shovana Ghimire, I live and work in Kathmandu, Nepal where I am a doctor right now.
Interviewer: Ok, so what are your responsibilities?
Shovana: Currently I am an intern doctor afterwards I have to take the medical council exam to become a registered doctor. But because of the pandemic, our workload has increased considerably. I am actually still waiting to take the exam but it has been delayed 5 months and is likely to be delayed until the pandemic is over. We are working in small groups to minimize the exposure. Some of the intern doctors have even been assigned to ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 24 hours.
Interviewer: Intern doctors have to work for 24 hours??
Shovana: Yes. Though we do have the senior staff on hand to look after us. It also depends on which department you are posted in. Next month I will also be assigned to ICU though, for now I am assigned to the Emergency Room.
Interviewer: Tell me what that is like.
Shovana: Hectic and fruitful. We see around 10 patients a day. The weekends are hectic actually because there are lot more cases of drunk driving and so one Saturday night we didn't sleep a wink because of patients overflow.
Before pandemic there were more cases but due to the recent lockdown people move less out of their houses. (BELOW: Graph showing increase in COVID cases in Nepal).
Interviewer: As of September 8, Nepal right now has 47, 000 cases, do you feel that is accurate?
Shovana: I don't know as of yet only 669,000 cases have been tested from 29,219,461 population, so there might be more cases out there. What’s scary is that there may be many asymptomatic cases out there which we don’t know about.
Interviewer: Is the testing slow? What happens in the rural areas and smaller cities who is responsible there?
Shovana: The government had sent out doctors and other health professionals for the tests to be carried out in rural areas. Isolation tents, field hospitals have been allocated by the government for COVID patients. Foreign countries have also sent PPE and test kits.
Interviewer: Do you feel it will be effective though?
Shovana: With the growing pandemic anything we do won't be enough, it's a challenging period for the entire world. Our country is doing what it can to the best of its ability to tackle the pandemic. But of course like any other countries in the world during this pandemic we are struggling too. And have our own shortcomings.
Interviewer: In a few months the weather will start getting colder: do you feel your hospital is prepared?
Shovana: Yes we expect to encounter more cases of flu, pneumonia and COVID as they are exaggerated more in winter. As students we've encountered them in pulmonary ward.
We have pulmonary ward and ICU but there may not be enough wards with the cases of COVID happening at the same time.
Interviewer: May I ask how many hours are you sleeping and resting a day?
Shovana: It depends on my duties, right now I'm posted in pediatrics department do I'll have to wake up at night anytime if there's a baby delivery (depends on how many cases) i can't give an exact answer but around 3-4 hrs of sleep or a bit more. Our duty starts from 9am today to 9am tomorrow. Then we'll have one day off and another will be (OPD) with Outpatient Duty from 9am to 2pm (cut short due to pandemic).
Interviewer: Would you fear being infected if you became responsible for the COVID patients?
Shovana: Yes of course I would feel the fear of being infected. Regardless of whether I'm assigned to take responsibility of COVID patients or not, I fear of being infected not only while working in the health care setting but in general. Since there are so many cases of COVID and as high as 30-40% of the infected people may be asymptomatic which means you never know who is infected and spreading the virus.
We take proper precautions while coming in contact with patients, we wash our hands and use sanitizer before and after coming in contact with any patients. I take a shower immediately after coming home from hospital. BELOW: Shovana's book at Goodnovel
Interviewer: Are your family worried about you?
Shovana: Yes, like any other person my family is worried about me and I'm worried about them if I may have been come in contact with the virus, I'm worried I may bring virus home so I stay in my flat near my hospital.
I haven’t seen my parents in months. I did live with them but due to the worsening situation, I have rented a flat close to my hospital and stay there as going home on a daily basis would increase the risk of my family being infected through me.
Interviewer: In some countries, young people are not taking the virus seriously and still go outside without a mask. Do you have anything to say those people?
Shovana: The virus does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages. Being young is of course advantageous in that you are less vulnerable to the severity of the disease. However, it doesn't mean that you won't get infected. There have been many cases where young healthy individuals with no other underlying medical conditions have had severe form of the infection and even fatality. Moreover, it is every individual's responsibility to help minimize the spread of the virus. We are living through a pandemic and it will not take care of itself, every single of us must contribute to minimizing the spread.
Interviewer: Is there anything that we could do to help?
Shovana: Yes, there was a case where a patient was brought to ER with respiratory problem (the patient previously had history of respiratory disease) the doctors followed the proper protocol to treat the patient and tried their best but they lost him. Later the doctor tried to enquire about any COVID contact and that's when the patient's relatives got aggressive saying that “you couldn't save him and now you're finding excuses”. The doctors were beaten up and the culprit was not even arrested as apparently the CCTV footage was deleted.
If you have the time, please help us sign this petition on Change.org , it would mean the world to us.
With the increasing pandemic the medical professionals are facing discrimination in society (a sad truth) many of health professionals are being beaten up and also being threatened into leaving the rented hostels/flats for fear of bringing the virus home. (Kathmandu, Pashupatinath Temple).
Interviewer: Last question, is there anything you would like to say to the people reading this interview?
Shovana: To all the people out there, it’s not necessary to be a health professional to contribute to control the pandemic, everyone can contribute easily by following some measures: Stay at home unless absolutely necessary, do not complain about being forced to have stayed home, your immune system may be strong, even if you don’t have symptoms but you still might be carrying the virus which you may transmit it unknowingly.
Use the time instead to relax with your family, read books, learn a language, enhance your cooking skills. In case of absolute necessity, if you need to go out, use masks, avoid going into crowds and maintain at least 1 meter distance from others. Hand washing is the most effective method. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face. Avoid handshakes. Cover your nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing with your elbow or a tissue paper and discard it properly. If you develop symptoms or come in contact with the infected reach out to the narby hospital.
Last but not the least it’s all up to the public, we, the health professionals are here to treat you guys but it’s all in your hands to defeat the virus and not get defeated by it. Its not just the government's or the big health organisations duty to combat this pandemic. They are doing their part. But we also need to do ours. If you can save the world by just staying at home then why not? Together we can overcome this. So, stay home and stay safe. Thank you.