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Covid-19: Doctors face burnout, some opt to go on vacation
Overcome by fatigue and a sense of burnout, healthcare professionals, on the frontline fighting Covid-19 for over six months, are trying to regain their peace of mind by taking a break. They are into a wide range of activities from trekking to meditation to long rides.
Doctors, who spoke to DH, said many members of their fraternity are tired of handling Covid-19 cases. Many feel that a two-day break is essential, they said.
Dr Jagadish Hiremath, CEO of Ace Suhas Hospital, said, 'We haven't had time for ourselves and the family. We have observed severe stress and anxiety among doctors who were on Covid-19 duty as they have to spend considerable time in PPE kits and stay away from their family."
"To deal with this and to stop attrition, we have started the roster recuperation break wherein doctors on Covid duty can take a break for a day or two. They have to take Covid-19 test before they go for the de-stress break,' he added.
Dr Suri Raju V, managing director and chief urologist, Regal Hospital, told DH, 'Since pandemic set in, healthcare workers have been at the helm. For the last eight months, we have been working without a break for extended hours. When there is a rush of patients, we have worked for 18-20 hours and spending an eight-hour shift in PPE is in itself a humongous task.'
'We deal with dehydration and weakness, we have to deal with the fury of the patients' family and so on. The stress and anxiety have become an everyday feature. At the end of the day, we are also human who has a breaking point. Thus, we have taken an initiative to ensure that all the healthcare workers are in a sound state of mind to be able to deal with the situation,' he added.
Dr Raju said he went to Skandagiri recently as a day trip to break the monotony of work and meditate in the midst of nature. He said, 'I have also written a book called 'Kidney Secrets Revealed' during this period as during the Covid-19 period cases of dialysis increased and many patients started calling us for renal ailments.'
At GVG Invivo Hospital, a one-day trip was arranged for staff to Talakadu in August. "After that, we never really got time to even think about it. While the nursing staff manage to get breaks in their work, doctors have not got time off yet. We are eagerly looking forward to seeing the decline in the cases so that our doctors too can take a break," said Dr Gunasekar Vuppalapati, CMD of GVG Invivo Hospital.
Dr Vuppalapati said burnout comprises exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy, but one does not have to experience all three to suffer serious consequences.
Dr Jagadish noted that burnout will have deleterious effects that reverberate throughout the whole system in and out of the workplace. "Unfortunately, in contrast to the systemic medical responses that abate epidemics, organizations, like hospitals, burnout vectors often go unchecked.'