Medical staff during outbreak have own set of problems

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020

PETALING JAYA: While they are busy saving lives, medical frontliners are facing their own set of struggles when it comes to family life.

For consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Sanjiv Joshi, quarantining himself after contact with a Covid-19 patient is sheer torture.

If not for video conferencing with his family, he said he would have gone crazy from looking at the four walls of the apartment he had isolated himself in.

Earlier this month, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah praised Dr Sanjiv for his quick action in voluntarily distancing himself from the hospital, clinic and his family for 14 days.

But it also led to discrimination against his family.

“My face was splashed all over the news and social media, and my kids’ schools found out. They were told not to come to school.

“I never went home, but isolated myself the moment I discovered my patient tested positive for Covid-19.

“Despite repeated explanation to their principals, one of my sons wasn’t allowed to go to school, ” said Dr Sanjiv, who has two boys aged 14 and 11, and a daughter aged five.

His sons are in different schools and the younger boy was allowed to attend as his headmistress was more reasonable.

Dr Sanjiv tested negative, but chose to finish the quarantine as “prevention is better than cure”.“However, his (son’s) friends wouldn’t let him join their group and told him to stay away. That deeply affected him, ” he said.

As for medical officer Dr Samir Imran Asarudin, this father of two is concerned for his children too.

One of his tasks is to take nasal and throat swabs from patients to test for the virus.

“I’m covered from head to toe, but it doesn’t mean I’m without risk; it’s hard to tell if I’m fully protected.

“My fear of getting Covid-19 is not there, but I worry for my children, especially my newborn, ” he said.

“As much as I want to hug my children when I get home, I soap up thoroughly first.

“Then, I head to the shower after putting my clothes in the washing machine, ” he said.

“Only after I come out from the bathroom do I pick up my baby.”

The workload may be overwhelming, but Dr Samir doesn’t complain as he is now used to it.

“I try not to lose it, although it happens sometimes; I do try to take care of myself mentally and physically as much as I can, ” he said.

For more on the struggles faced by the frontliners and their families, see StarHealth this Sunday.

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