COVID-19 has been a global burden since the turn of 2020. Healthcare systems are exhausted worldwide by the nuisance caused by SARS-COV-2. Nepal has lost lives on a large scale in 2021 and great numbers of livelihood have been devastated emotionally and economically throughout the country. Moreover, we as health professionals have come out of our way to serve our community to battle this havoc. Many of us have worked day and night in hospitals, COVID wards, and isolation centers. Some of us have even lost lives working and serving. We are still doing whatever possible to lend our hands to the people who are in need. And with that said, I, as a young doctor have been serving in a Telehealth service conducted by Health Foundation Nepal.
Given the COVID-19 situation, I was still able to contribute to the fight against our national health burden despite being away from the medical setting temporarily. I am not the same person I was a few months back. I believe in being, in any way, better than yesterday. Having said that, I grew exponentially in these months. I am now oriented to the crisis that the Nepalese from all the nooks and crannies are going through. I had never experienced, as a doctor, treating patients through the telephone. I learned how I can use just my words to treat my patients when a situation like this makes it difficult to establish a doctor-patient relationship with in-person visits. I experienced how workarounds can be possible to make the situation feasible for us doctors to take care of our patients. Also, I have learned much about the management of COVID-19 along the way and have developed massive confidence in taking care of COVID patients.
I felt grateful for being in a position to impact people’s lives no matter how small. It was a new perspective I got in the virtual network. My job was to receive calls from patients who tested positive and were in an isolation. When I listened to their anxious questions, I could feel how frightening it was to know that you have tested positive with a disease that has been taking so many lives around us. I could empathize with their sentiment and I tried my best to at least pacify their fears by listening to them and counseling them about their situation. I realize that amid an inevitable crisis you are in, you only need assurance from someone. It takes away a large fraction of the pain you are going through. I always cherished the warm ‘thank you’ my patients gave me in the end when they were relieved that we are here watching over them.
The self-satisfaction that we get from helping people is priceless. One of the reasons I chose to become a doctor was to touch the lives around me. I worked as a community doctor in an NGO and I have the experience of doing small things to bring big differences in people’s lives. It feels a lot better when you know you have done something that has helped someone. Thus, these experiences make me crave more community work that I can put my hands on.
We add spices to life not with experiences but rather with people we meet along the way. And I have spiced up my life by getting along with a wonderful team of doctors. I am happy to see many young doctors like me have the drive to change the world for the better. You only feel like working out if you put yourself out there in a gym and work with others. You need a dynamic environment to thrive and push yourself towards your goal. If not then you drift away even if you begin highly motivated. Therefore, I am extremely thankful to Health Foundation Nepal and the wonderful team of doctors they brought together for this project. I would not have been able to dream bigger to work for humanitarian prosperity without all these people and the commonplace we share in our journey.
Being technology savvy has its extended perks in all professional settings today. Thus, I had an added experience in the use of hotline call centers. Putting aside the medical aspect of this project, I learned how social media can be made into a powerhouse of productivity by connecting people from completely different places around the world into a single hub. The technical team had given their blood, sweat and tears to keep things running, we doctors were available in well-organized shifts, and the moderators were actively juggling with people and events. And all of us were united together for a similar cause with powerful tools of technology. So, any skill is a valuable asset in our professional arena. I am sure I will be able to implement these skills in my future endeavors to reach out and help thousands of people.
All in all, I took home priceless assets from this telehealth project. I experienced my professional growth and can now manage COVID patients with updated resources and guidelines available. I grew personally and emotionally, and I have definitely become humbler to patients with the experience of empathizing more to their stressful situation than medically treating them. I am now capable of using powerful technology tools to augment my reach to people and my patients. And, I met wonderful people with whom I shared all these experiences with. I thank again the whole team of Health Foundation Nepal and Voxcrow technical team to have given life to this project and the environment for us doctors to make a difference in our community from anywhere we are physically.