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Darjeeling COVID Heroes: Dr. Kukula Tshering Bhutia

People pay the doctor for his trouble; for his kindness they still remain in his debt: Seneca

Dr. Kukula Tshering Bhutia is the medical officer in-charge of Cardiac Care Unit at District Hospital Darjeeling. She has been working at the district hospital CCU ever since it started in 2013. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit North Bengal, she was called upon duty at the ICU ward of Desun hospital, Siliguri. Currently, she is back on duty at Darjeeling. She is preparing for her next assignment at the upcoming COVID-19 facility at Triveni. Here she shares her experience with Darjinc's Simran Sharma:

It has been quite a challenging and traumatic experience for me. A few weeks ago we were in 24 hour alternate shifts and were being transferred between different facilities.

“The most difficult part of it all for me has been donning and doffing the PPE kit. The hospitals shut down air conditioners because aerosol is a medium for transfer of the virus. The PPE really covers everything up, eyes start burning, the whole face gets fogged up and it is suffocating and dizzying. While taking rounds I climbed four flights of stairs and by the end of it, I would be drenched and exhausted.”

Photos by Nawami Gurung

Doffing is another meticulous process because it requires following precise protocol. It is tough. It is equally difficult for patients as well as health workers who have had to face this really unprecedented circumstance. Sometimes patients are brought in the middle of the night and the entire PPE procedure has to be followed which really takes up time.

Most patients tend to be afraid and so are we. The ICU patients are critically ill while the general wards have many asymptomatic patients, who say they are clueless about why they are there.

Now our fears too have dissipated as it has become a part of our routine. This virus is here to stay only we need to change for better and be vigilant until a vaccine is available. There are trials going on for a few, we hope the vaccine is successful.

This is a very unique situation, something that we had never seen ourselves in, and it is not in anybody’s control. It is our duty to serve so we have to do it; there is no escape but to face it. It is part of our regular duty and with the least amount of knowledge about the genesis of this virus, we are trying.

At the end of the day we are also humans with concerns, I have old parents at home and I make sure to diligently follow precaution. I have gone on self-isolation many times and have to give up on meeting my parents for long spells.

Initially there was a lot of media coverage but now it is as if it has become a usual part of our daily lives. So I think we are losing out on the awareness part and people have become quite careless. I don’t know if they are fearless or whether they don’t understand. The virus is not dangerous for all but it is highly contagious.

Photos by Nawami Gurung

“Until a vaccine is discovered, we need to rethink the new normal. Maintaining social distancing, not spitting in public, wearing masks and things like that should not be taken lightly.”

Don’t be afraid but do follow protocol. It is the only way with which we can fight the virus.

Darjinc and Mayukh Tea thank Dr. Bhutia for her immense fortitude and dedication during this pandemic

DARJINC and MAYUKH TEA present Darjeeling COVID Heroes, a series to celebrate the unsung, often unnoticed heroes, who have truly served our community during this pandemic. Keep visiting this space for other such motivational and humane stories from the lockdown.
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