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Dr Rajiv Dang, medical director at Gurugram’s Max Hospital.
Dr Rajiv Dang, medical director at Gurugram’s Max Hospital.

The doctor who has an answer for everything and is a pillar of support to the medical staff

  • Dr Rajiv Dang, medical director at Gurugram’s Max Hospital, has deferred all non-urgent medical cases, focusing his institution’s full attention on the battle against the unfolding novel coronavirus pandemic
  • The fear (of getting infected) is there... but that does not mean shying away from responsibilities, says Dang

From mock sessions to men at the gates, and from the paramedical staff to physicians falling ill, Dr Rajiv Dang keeps an eye on everything. The medical director at Gurugram’s Max Hospital has deferred all non-urgent medical cases, focusing his institution’s full attention on the battle against the unfolding novel coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 17,000 worldwide and infected more than 390,000.

That also means tackling concerns on the home front. His wife is worried about his possible exposure to the virus, even as he worries about his son, a doctor in the US, and his daughter, also a medical professional.

“The fear is of course there, as we clinicians have also read about how healthcare professionals involved with the disease and patient care have suffered and even succumbed to the disease. Hence, fear is certainly there among medical practitioners at large and medical groups also," Dang, 60, said in an interview.

“However, it does not mean staying away or shying away from our responsibility as the hospital is making all efforts to meet the needs of society."

Max Hospital, Gurugram, has set up isolation wards, kept personal protective equipment ready, conducted training drills and has set aside ventilators for dealing with Covid-19 cases.

The hospital has put up posters for display in the waiting area in the outpatient department. “Overall, the situation is extremely challenging, but we have to look at the bigger picture and work towards it," Dang said.

His day starts around 6.30am, when a dedicated WhatsApp group sharing and discussing developments on the pandemic comes alive. In an hour’s time, he is usually at the hospital, where he also sees patients as an internal medicine specialist.

“Early in the morning, there is a discussion among core team members of our own unit, then it starts with taking rounds of the facilities that we have created and are we following it effectively," he said.

Apart from joining a small number of discussions on television channels around the coronavirus disease, Dang, like many others in India, has given up socializing, using WhatsApp for most communication.

“If they (security staff) have a patient at the entry point whom they are suspicious of being positive, they have all the right to call me immediately—either I will settle the issue over a call, or I will be present on ground. For all those tasks, mock drills and preparations, if they feel it is a difficult job, I will be standing there on the forefront. If there are people who are sick, I make it a point that I call them everyday in order to give them a sense of belonging and that someone cares. In case any doctors on duty are down with fever, they are contacted in the morning by me."

Dang also takes care that the paramedical staff feel reassured.

“When some of the younger nurses are unsure of managing a particular task, I assure them that I will explain to them and help them in the task. I also visit each and every nursing corner and prescription desk, reminding them to maintain cleanliness and hygiene within that area, wear masks, sanitize their hands, maintain distance between themselves, etc., thus, making them feel safe as well. Basically, for everything, being an answer and a pillar for them."

Dang says that for clinicians, everything else has been pushed to the background except coronavirus. “I’ve been telling patients not to come to the hospital if they are manageable through medicines. Also, I’m not seeing a patient for more than five minutes, so they are out of the hospital as soon as possible and safe."

Even as he goes around performing his daily tasks, domestic concerns linger.

“The fear is more among my family members and less in me as they feel they are at home and I am in the heart of the activity," said Dang, who keeps getting reminders from his wife on dos and don’ts through the day.

“My daughter is also in the same profession and we are extremely worried for her as she still does not understand the nuances," said Dang. For him, this might be the first and last time that people of his age group are seeing such an outbreak in India and elsewhere, he added.

Dang is also worried about his son, a doctor in the US, which is seeing lockdowns amid the outbreak. “However, he is working as a surgeon at a hospital where work is being carried out. We call him three times a day to check on him. Therefore, everything is revolving around five-six members of the family and what we can do."

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