Imagine being wrapped in a non-porous sheet for over two hours in sweltering heat. Going through this harsh experience are healthcare professionals in the front lines of COVID-19 management who have to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as precaution. By the time their shift ends, they are drenched in sweat. What’s more, they also experience dehydration, hypoxia due to decreased supply of oxygen as well as skin rashes.
Junior doctors and nurses in city government hospitals like Gandhi Hospital and Niloufer Hospital said that neither air coolers nor cool water is provided to them. They have requested authorities to make the provisions to help them recover from profusely sweating in a PPE.
A junior doctor on the condition of anonymity said the challenges and difficulties of donning the equipment from head to toe and staying in it for hours involve not drinking water or going to the washroom. They also have to wear N95 masks and face shields. “The flip side of the protective gear is that it does not allow flow of air. At times, we feel as if we are about to faint,” the junior doctor said.
Photos of PPE-donning health staff drenched in sweat are being circulated on doctors’ groups on WhatsApp.
A nurse who attends COVID patients at Gandhi Hospital said almost all front lines health staff are going through this experience. “Spare a thought for menstruating women who have to work for hours in a PPE. Our uniforms are soaked in sweat in just two hours We will be partly relieved if air coolers and cold water are provided to us,” she added.
President of Telangana Junior Doctors Association K.U.N. Vishnu said they have already placed the request with officials in the State health department.
Another junior doctor said that water bottles are provided at Gandhi Hospital and Niloufer Hospital: “But the water is at room temperature”.