indica News Bureau-
Lying on a hospital bed in New York, Dr Madhvi Arya could only exchange text messages with her husband and daughter. She was not able to meet them one last time.
The 61-year-old woman, who died last week, was afflicted with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while treating a positive patient in March.
Dr. Arya, who moved to the US along with her husband in 1994, is among the several Indian-American doctors who are in the frontline in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The case of Dr. Arya is just an example, but there are many more such cases where Indian-origin doctors are battling the pandemic in US. In another case, Dr Rajat Gupta (name changed) was attending a coronavirus patient in the emergency room of a hospital in New Jersey early this month. A few moments later, the patient threw up. It hit his face with a force.
Dr. Gupta fell ill and he tested positive for coronavirus. Despite best efforts, doctors could not save his life, adding to the growing list of Indian-Americans who have died due to COVID-19.
It is a proud and scary moment for Indian-origin doctors in US as they are battling US pandemic and behind every seventh patient’s treatment. However, it is scary as some 200 Indian doctors have been infected by the virus and are being treated at different hospitals. “We have a proud moment, it is (also) a scary moment; it is a mixed feeling, but this virus is a deadly virus” Reddy, president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), told a news agency.
With global healthcare systems overburdened because of the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals from India are at the forefront of the battle against the virus in the US, reported Times of India.
In the US alone, there are 100,000 doctors who are Indian or of Indian origin. But numbers apart, it is courage on display that is defining the Indian workforce during the current pandemic. Describing the response of Indian healthcare workers to the crisis, Dr Suresh Reddy, president of AAPI says, “It is both a proud and scary moment. On one hand, they are saving lives; on the other they are putting their own lives in grave danger.”
He added that he has seen several friends who had fallen sick because of exposure to the virus. “Of the 200 Indian doctors who are sick currently, 10 to 15 have been hospitalized and five in critical condition. Three have passed away,” he adds.
Early this month, Indian American nephrologist Priya Khanna, 43, died in a New Jersey hospital. Her father Satyendra Khanna (78), a general surgeon, has tested positive and is said to be in a critical condition in the intensive care unit in the same hospital.
“Indian-American physicians are the real heroes. Many have become positive in the process, some have died, some are in ICU now and some are recuperating at home,” AAPI vice president Dr. Anupama Gotimukula said.
Community leaders are praying for Dr. Ajay Lodha, a former AAPI president, who has tested positive for COVID-19, has been hospitalized and now is in ICU in a New York hospital.
Gastroenterologist Dr Anjana Samadder from Ohio, wife of former AAPI president Dr. Gautam Sammader is also reported to be battling for her life. Another prominent Indian American physician Dr. Sunil Mehra is said to be in serious condition.
“They are bravely leading the enormous challenge of fighting COVID 19 pandemic at their own personal risk without a second thought, which speaks volumes for their compassion, commitment and sense of duty,” Kolli said.
Statistics do not even take into account the stress and trauma that Indian doctors are facing.
“I have not seen my child for a week now. I have not slept in three days,” says Anjana Prasad (name changed) who had been working at a hospital in New Jersey, one of the hotspots of the disease. She says almost all the patients at her hospital are coronavirus positive.
Dr. Sam Nuthalapaty of the Sherman Oaks Hospital in California adds, “One mistake is all it takes for a healthcare worker to get affected.” While the West Coast has not been as severely hit by the pandemic, he says half of the 120 patients admitted at his hospital are Covid-19 positive.
Doctors in the US confirmed that poor physical health and lack of adequate social distancing may be behind why certain ethnic groups are being adversely affected.