Location: Bangalore, India

Title: Junior Consultant Microbiologist & Infection Control Officer

Company/Organization: St. Martha's Hospital

First Certified: June 2020

Way back in January 2020, I had attended the Antimicrobial Stewardship Workshop in Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research, Puducherry, India where there was a passing mention amongst the scientific crowd about the newly detected respiratory virus which was causing pneumonia. We knew there was a lot to come, so we decided to prep up and go back to our respective centers across India and start working on initiating an outbreak response. I held a training session for doctors in my hospital on February 4th 2020, the response was meek and in proportion to the availability of information at that time, that is when I realized this is going to be a public health disaster. Well it turned out to be and look where we have come.

My greatest challenge was getting every health care professional understand the critical role of preventive measures- hand hygiene, wearing( & discarding!) PPE correctly and maintaining physical distancing. Another concern was clarifying misinformation that was widely circulated amongst the hospital workers and general public. Filtering fake data and educating them with scientific evidence was a humongous task which we still continue to do.

We overcome this by getting a task force with designated roles in the hospital. Dissipating the right information periodically and monitoring compliance are our key tasks. My greatest success was bringing Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in the forefront.

Using social media helped in connecting like-minded professionals and experts in India and across the globe with whom I could discuss and get guidance. I joined APIC, SHEA & ESCMID which provided valuable resources.

My existing responsibilities increased manifold, I was given the role of heading the laboratory a few months ago. I was certified for CIC in June 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic with a determination to clear it. Preparing for the examination helped me in preparing me for the pandemic as well.

All the work I do in my Laboratory and Infection Control Department is nothing without my technicians, my infection control nurse, my residents and my interns in the hospital. I would like to honor them with all my heart and immense gratitude.