HÀ NỘI — Doctor Đỗ Doãn Bách, from the Cardiovascular Institute under the Bạch Mai Hospital, along with his colleagues once again helped fight COVID-19 when it broke out in Hà Nội and many localities across the country.
Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients have been given consultation and assistance via online apps and hotlines of the ‘Mạng lưới Thầy thuốc đồng hành’ (Network of companion physicians), founded by Bách and other doctors.
Bách said the fight against COVID-19 in Hà Nội was not as fierce as the time when he and the medical team of Bạch Mai Hospital worked at field hospital No 16 in HCM City, but the medical staff still faced numerous difficulties.
Bách was born in a family with a tradition of medicine. But he chose to study at the University of Transport.
“For a special reason, my father gave up on his dream of becoming the successor to my grandfather, who was a good cardiologist in the southern battlefield and a university lecturer after he was discharged from the army,” Bách told Giao Thông (Transport) newspaper.
“My father always respects children’s opinions although he hoped I would follow the family tradition. However, my grandfather encouraged me to study medicine,” he said.
Bách decided to commit to studying general medicine at Guangxi University, China. Returning home, he continued to study cardiology at Hà Nội Medical University and then started work at the Cardiovascular Institute, Bạch Mai Hospital.
His grandfather’s advice has always offered guidance in his career: “As a doctor, the most important things are compassion, responsibility and meticulousness. If you can do those things you will succeed and help others.”
During his five years working at Bạch Mai Hospital, Bách participated in many volunteer campaigns to examine and screen people and children in the highlands region for congenital heart disease.
The network of companion physicians was created after ten days of planning.
During those days, a group of young doctors focused on creating a process of counselling and treating patients.
“At that time, we received the support and active cooperation of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the consensus and enthusiasm of young doctors across the country,” Bách said.
In the first week, the network attracted 2,000 doctors and volunteers. This number has now reached 16,000,” he said.
Thousands of F0 patients have been given remote assistance, while many people were panicking because of the pandemic.
Every day, each doctor supports hundreds of patients via phone.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in HCM City and southern provinces from July to October 2021, the network of companion physicians mobilised more than 10,000 doctors and volunteers across the country to provide remote assistance for thousands of F0 cases.
Particularly, the network in Bình Dương Province, directly managed by Bách, supported about 90,000 patients.
The network of companion physicians has been transferred to the Ministry of Health and Departments of Health in localities such as HCM City, Cần Thơ, Bình Dương, Đà Nẵng and Hà Nội, contributing to control the pandemic in the “new normal” period with tens of thousands of F0 cases being treated at home every day.
Bách hopes that this will be a premise to develop a network of family doctors, contributing to improving the quality of grassroots healthcare facilities and easing overloaded central hospitals.
The network has helped 150,000 COVID-19 patients, made 450,000 successful calls, detected 1,415 high-risk patients that needed emergency support and hospital transfer.
Bách said: “I joined the network of companion physicians so I understand very well how fierce that battle is and how much the patients need us. We must go there without any hesitation.”
In early August 2021, returning home after many days of working with the network, he took his backpack and went to HCM City with the first team from Bạch Mai Hospital to work at field hospital No 16.
When he left, he only had time to call his family to inform them.
Doctors were really worried about the number of serious patients. Nearly 500 beds were full in just a few days.
The hotline rang all day and night because the situation at that time was extremely urgent. All medical facilities were full, Bách said.
“All day and night, many patients needed mechanical ventilation, meaning the doctors were on alert to care for, treat and try to save the patients as best they could,” he said.
At field hospital No. 16, Bách was assigned to work in resuscitation room No 3, which specialises in patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation and ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). The fatality rate here was always the highest and that put great pressure on doctors.
“We felt sad when we witnessed so many deaths. We could not avoid stress, tension and torment. But time does not allow us to stop, many other patients are still waiting for us. And the work has dragged us away,” said Bách.
Not only taking care of and treating patients, he and his colleagues also worked as a bridge connecting patients with relatives. It is like spiritual medicine for the severe COVID-19 patients themselves.
Bách remembered a female patient in particular.
He helped her make a phone call to her husband after being taken off the ventilator.
“That call was the motivation for her to bravely defeat COVID-19 and escape death. Even now, she still sends messages of thanks to the doctors. I understand that seeing family members is one of the greatest encouragement for patients,” Bách said.
“All this is a valuable experience for me to love more, to be more committed to the profession and to contribute to the community.”
Bách is among outstanding young people honoured for his contributions to social work. — VNS