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‘Aftermath of the COVID 19 Pandemic and the Road to Recovery’

Dr. Deepak Patkar

Dr. Deepak Patkar, President IRIA-2020, Director Medical Services, Head, Department of Imaging Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital writes on how pandemic has taught the healthcare fraternity should function in tandem for optimum delivery of services and successful patient outcomes.

In the past few months, the inhabitants of this third planet of our solar system have struggled in their fight with COVID 19 and grappled to survive the disease. COVID is a word that has slithered into our dictionary, our lives, and probably our far future. COVID 19 has put our entire healthcare industry specifically and the economy as a whole, at various crossroads which made it necessary to change, adapt, and evolve.

This pandemic has completely changed the way we work and it is imperative for us to prepare ourselves to deal with the ongoing and forthcoming crisis which may make it mandatory to follow certain safety precautions while ensuring patient care.

Also read: COVID-19 pandemic and cardiovascular procedures

Understanding the aftermath of this crisis is as important as finding a solution to end it. The path of return to normalcy will be a multi directional one with collaborative efforts from different sectors. A step wise approach in a phased manner seems like the most feasible option which is being followed in most countries globally. If the lockdown was lifted suddenly, a ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 infection would have become inevitable which would have definitely overwhelmed our system. Nonetheless, safety and precautions need to be imbibed in our daily routine now and a radical change is required in the way we live.

If there’s one lesson this pandemic has taught us it’s that healthcare is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any society and we need to strengthen it in all possible ways. It’s a combined effort of the government, hospitals, healthcare organizations, associations and regulatory bodies, healthcare personnel, and the public. All these factors need to function in tandem for optimum delivery of services and successful patient outcomes.

As an attempt to control the spread of infection, operative procedures and routine medical care were discontinued and only emergency services were being offered like imaging in stroke, cardiac complaints, surgical indications, etc. With the lockdown restrictions being uplifted by the government, there is an expected rise in non-COVID-related healthcare. Hospitals will have to be prepared to resume routine investigations and care for all those who weren’t able to receive treatment during the pandemic. While an increase in the number of routine nonCOVID patients is expected, a steady number of COVID patients will also require routine as well as emergency care. Hence, even though the first wave might be showing a downward trend, hospitals will have to gear up for an increased workload and start planning for this transition early on.

This pandemic would be considered the greatest economic crisis since the Great depression in 1920. Lockdown imposed in the majority of countries to control the spread of the virus led to a major financial breakdown in most countries. The type of curve of recovery would be different for different nations but the immediate concerns like the collapse of tourism, hospitality industry, the downturn in consumer activity, rise in unemployment, and the fall in GDP are probably similar challenges.

There has been a complete shift in the methods of imparting education from the onsite to the digital platform. Students planning advanced studies, fellowships have had to postpone plans and settle for alternate options. We completely let go of our comfort zones and adopting newer technologies like digital communication platforms, online classes, and work from home options. We changed our guidelines and protocols, incorporated new sanitization rules, and tried to get hold of the reigns of our lives. Things might move at a snail pace but we are ever hopeful!

The term social distancing has found a new meaning and we all have learned to survive with it. The COVID pandemic has compelled us to change the way we work, the way we breathe, eat, travel, in short, the way we live. This is the first of its kind of disaster that our generation has ever seen and I am sure that we shall be reeling in the aftermath of this disease for a very long time. Our world has seen it all. But it’s human nature to learn to live, adapt, and evolve. History has proved time and again that every crisis has led to major life-changing reforms. Food shortage led to the green revolution, the much talked about stock market led to electronic trading, the American civil war led to the end of slavery, and so on.

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As aptly said by a great leader, Nelson Mandela, ‘I never lose, I either win or learn’.

We need to educate ourselves and keep learning with every passing day. All these new technologies our world has been introduced to, need to be embraced with enthusiasm and an open mind. These have had an immense impact in our lives and we need to tactfully make the most of these.

There are concerns, yes, like lack of government regulations, benefits, and assistance, depleting funds, economic hurdles, social distancing, and the psychological stress which tag along. But this too shall pass. Newer reforms and collaborative strategies will gradually help our country tide over successfully.

Finally, belief, hope, and family are what we need to nurture. These are our pillars of strength. We need to hold onto these till we get ashore.

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