It has been almost 9 months since I have been volunteering with Project StepOne. I must say, I have made many discoveries during this time, and as such, have been able to contribute to, on an almost daily basis to save lives via this truly unique platform that has brought the government, the citizens, technology, and healthcare providers such as me together.
Almost everyone knows about Covid 19 now. But that was not the case in the early days of the pandemic. In the initial days, almost everyone that had even a slightly runny nose, or a slight cough, or a mild fever was extremely anxious. I remember in the early days, my advice used to focus on providing symptomatic treatment with OTC medications, and in a very large number of cases, the symptoms would subside.
If an individual’s symptoms did not subside, my first course of action would be to get tested for being infected and would request the individual to home quarantine if the test was positive. My focus with the patients in those days was to guide them on the important parameters to monitor for any flare-up in the disease process. And, what became very clear to me during those days, was the need for us doctors to understand how patients were feeling, and to alleviate the anxiety that was no widespread. This was a very important role for me, as I was aware of the amount of stress on the healthcare system with overcrowding at hospitals, and I had to do my part to ensure that patients also understood that panic reactions were not always the best choice, for either themselves or others that may REALLY need to be hospitalized.
Then there were the patients that were vulnerable, those that either had an underlying pre-morbidity or were exceptions to the large number that had mild symptoms. It was clear to me that some patients required hospitalization, and when required, I would not just advocate for that, but also would involve myself with the team to discuss the need for Remdesevir, steroids, or any other intervention including plasma therapy. Treatment protocols have evolved so much during the past 9 months, and in most cases, there is now a clear pathway, with the role of antivirals, Remdesevir, and other therapies demonstrating much efficacy.
I continue my involvement with StepOne. Not because I have to, but because this provides me with immense satisfaction. And even though I am an Ophthalmologist, I am able to contribute to saving lives. This is very much outside the paradigm of my regular practice. During this journey, I also realized that in helping others, I am also helping myself. I received innumerable blessings from patients that I spoke with – not only because I provided medical guidance, but also, because they felt cared for. I thank StepOne for creating this platform to give anyone an opportunity to express their care, and I was one such individual.
There is much we have to learn yet about this virus. But let us also take stock of many things that we have learned, or maybe re-learned. The importance of hygiene, food habits, a balanced lifestyle, being part of a community among so many other things. Especially about caring. And how sometimes, caring is the only treatment that a patient requires.
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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author’s own and do not express the views or opinions of Project StepOne as an organization.