In Conversation with Dr. Kamran Khan Sumalani | Billboard Pakistan

Dr. Kamran Khan Sumalani works as a consultant chest specialist at Jinnah hospital Karachi. He is the person in charge of the Covid-19 ward at JPMC ever since this virus landed in Pakistan, making him a hero of the nation.

Dr. Kamran Khan Sumalani works as a consultant chest specialist at Jinnah hospital Karachi. He is the person in charge of the Covid-19 ward at JPMC ever since this virus landed in Pakistan, making him a hero of the nation.

Q1. What made you join this field? Were you always inclined towards helping people?

When you think about becoming a doctor in a country like Pakistan, there shouldn’t be any doubt regarding your passion for humanity as in this country being a doctor comes with its own hurdles and challenges. Due to the shortage of doctors, you are responsible for many things. Moreover, aspects like job security, the education of your children, working with fewer resources is discouraging. However, treating the people of your own country is the main driving force that keeps you going and stops you from looking for opportunities abroad. 

Q2. How is the situation now compared to when Covid-19 first hit Karachi, Pakistan?

It’s been a year since the Covid-19 virus first hit Pakistan and during this year the severity of the virus, the spread and its treatment has changed over the course of time. Initially, the first phase came which over time settled down, leading to a decrease in the number of patients and the intensity of the pandemic. Then the second wave came and suddenly there was a surge in the severity of the virus and the number of patients. Presently, the third wave is going on but Karachi, or needless to say the province of Sindh has relatively been less affected compared to other provinces.

Q3. How did you feel when you first started working and treating Covid-19 patients?

When I joined the Covid-19 ward as an in-charge, it was a difficult time as it was the starting of the pandemic. Along with the citizens, the virus also affected health care workers and there were many casualties. During that time, I sincerely believed in God’s plan and I knew that the time of death for everyone is fixed, thereby, I stepped into the role. When I first met people affected by the virus, they were terrified and this was evident from their faces. The fact that they were isolated and could not be with their loved ones and the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic contributed to all of this. During this time, a doctor had two responsibilities, the first one was to treat their patients, and the second was to be their friend, by talking to them and consoling them that they would be better soon and would soon be with their loved ones. Along with treating the patients, I used to make sure to spend some time with them as that gave them hope and the motivation to keep going. 

Q4. What’s your daily routine like in the Covid-19 wards?

My daily routine involves taking a detailed round of the ward and meeting my patients whom I know by their names now. I make sure that there are no disruptions in their treatment and keep a check on their medications, and what needs to be changed or any lab reports that are pending. Moreover, there are three shifts in which our staff works, the first one is the morning shift from 8 am – 2 pm, then the evening shift from 2 pm – 8 pm and finally the night shift which is from 8 pm – 8 am. First and foremost is being readily available to go to the hospital anytime and then being in touch with my staff members and junior doctors about patients and management is all part of my daily routine which has been consistent for a year now.

Q5. Tell us about a moment that gave you a ray of hope in the Covid-19 ward.

Allah is the ultimate giver of hope for me. Moreover, when my patient recovers, I also feel the same happiness felt by their loved ones and that is what gives me a ray of hope to keep going on. 

Q6. How do you manage to keep your staff motivated during such uncertain times?

Before motivating anyone, you first have to keep your motivation in check. As an in-charge, you have to set a precedent of yourself so that others can follow it. During this time, I used to motivate my staff by making them realize God has chosen them for this profession because he knows that they are well-suited for this job. This is the time when our people need us the most and we have to give it our best to make god and his people happy.

Q7. How do you keep your professional and personal separate?

During this pandemic, every health care worker’s life has been greatly affected. The daily routine for us involves reaching home, leaving our shoes outside and going to shower first without meeting anyone. It’s also crucial to wash our scrubs and other clothing. After the whole process, we then go and meet our family members. But there was hardly any time that we spent at home because of our professional commitment. Moreover, there was this constant fear that we might infect our loved ones which was a very heavy toll to bear. I myself got infected with the virus, where I sent my family members to live somewhere else and I lived in isolation for 20-25 days. After recovering, I went straight back to work. 

Q8. How accurate is the increasing number of Covid-19 patients that we see in the news and mainstream media?

As far as the news regarding the rising number of cases in Punjab and KPK is concerned, this information is up-to-date. However, I feel that the media has not played its part during this pandemic to educate people about the virus, awareness programs, following SOPs efficiently and to distinguish factual information from rumored information has not been their prime focus. These are all the steps that the media could have taken very easily. The fact that so many people still do not believe in the virus, overburdened hospitals, doctors and nurses is because of the widespread fabricated information. 

Q9. What are some misconceptions regarding Covid-19 that we need to get rid of?

The biggest misconception is that people still do not believe in the Covid-19 virus even though so many people have been affected by it, many even lost their lives to the virus but still people consider it to be a foreign conspiracy. 

Q10. Any advice that you would like to give to our readers?

I advise people to believe in the reality that is Covid-19 and to accept it. Keep themselves and their loved ones safe, wear a mask and follow social distancing protocols and finally get vaccinated. The vaccine is completely safe, there is no extreme side effect except for a slight fever and body ache that can be easily taken care of. It is of utmost importance to be safe from the pandemic. Everyone should go and get vaccinated.

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