Meet the PPE-clad doctor whose positive video has gone viral in the midst of coronavirus pandemic
As much as social media is considered to be a negative intervention in our daily lives, one must also appreciate the fact that it also spreads goodness and positivity when the world most needs it, especially now when India has crossed the one million mark as cases of COVID-19 in the country continue to surge.
The country is battling as many as 3,42, 473 active cases as of July 17, 11am, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In the middle of a global pandemic, a frontline worker at BMC Hospital, Mumbai, 25-year-old doctor Richa Negi’s dance video to the Bollywood song Garmi served as a much-needed dose of positivity online.
Dancing is Dr Richa’s hobby, besides travelling and trekking and these interests have brought her fame as an influencer on Instagram with 174k followers. An adventurer at heart, Richa has also completed a mountaineering course from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarakhand. At present, the frontline worker’s days are spent in the ICU and wards treating COVID-19 patients.
Richa took some time off after a late shift to speak with HerStory about the dance video, positivity, and being on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Richa Negi
HerStory (HS): Tell us the story behind your viral Garmi dance video wearing a PPE kit. Did you expect the video to break the internet and go viral?
Richa Negi (RN): Firstly, I want to thank everyone for the amazing response. It has been phenomenal and I definitely did not expect it to make headlines! In fact, this surreal feeling of people knowing me by my name right now is unbelievable. I am so not used to it because for me, I am still just a doctor going on duty every day just trying to blow off some steam after hours by dancing, which is one of the reasons I shot the video! It was not pre-planned. A friend of mine mentioned about Doctor's Day, which I had completely forgotten about amidst duty, so I just made an impromptu video. I just kept my cellphone on the window sill while my roomie was changing into her equipment. I had a few minutes to spare so I just shot the video then and I'm glad I did!
HS: What was the first thought that came to your mind when you learnt about the COVID-19 outbreak in China and later in India?
RN: At first, when I heard about the outbreak in China, I genuinely felt bad for them and wished they would get out of it soon, but frankly none of us had understood the gravity of the situation then. I had never imagined that such a massive outbreak would make its way to the entire world. Initially, in India, when we had assessed the number of cases, I was expecting a lockdown for sure but not such a long one. However, seeing the situation right now I am very glad that the lockdown is in place as we still need the number of cases to go down considerably in order to resume normalcy.
HS: How long have you been treating COVID-19 patients? What does your daily schedule look like these days? How do unwind after a busy day or a week of working?
RN: Our timetables are on a rotatory basis with six to seven hours of duty each day but with no specific shift. It can be anytime in the morning, noon, or night. We do, however, get a small period of quarantine after each rotation, which is quite needed. After work, we mostly try to get as much sleep as possible but whenever we can, we end up doing an activity to keep ourselves mentally fit and blow off some steam. It can be as little as 10 minutes. My roommate loves to paint and is excellent at it while I love to dance as you already know by now!
HS: What are some things you will never forget as a doctor working during a global pandemic?
RN: I will never ever forget the fact that during this period all the doctors, irrespective of their varied degrees, are working together as a team right now, trying to handle this situation and it makes me so proud to be a part of this wonderful fraternity. Kudos to all of the frontline workers.
The kind of determination and perseverance that everyone is working with; be it doctors, nurses or the hospital staff, in the PPE kits where we don't get to eat, drink water or even use the washroom for hours together, the kind of tenacity is just really commendable.
HS: What got you interested in this profession? What is the best and worst part of being a doctor in general and in times of coronavirus?
Young Richa Negi dressed as a doctor
RN: Growing up, I enjoyed studying Biology and eventually I ended up becoming a doctor. In fact, I have a picture of me as a child where I had dressed up like a doctor. It must have been some latent passion, I guess. However, it was after becoming a doctor I realised the major impact you have on other people's lives, which for me is a huge motivation to be as good as I can.
The best part about being a doctor is that no amount of fame or money can match up to the respect we get from people and that makes us work harder. Personally, the worst part for me is that sometimes we get attached to certain patients since we interact with them on a daily basis and then seeing them succumb right in front of us can be tough.
HS: You have a massive following of more than 150k as an influencer. Tell us about this part of your life.
RN: Honestly, if you were to see my posts you might have seen places where I've written, "I don't know where I'm going with this". I just love dancing a lot and I never started any of this with an intention to become an influencer. It was really just me following my passion.
I create more now because people like my videos. I've got requests for tutorials and classes too but unfortunately with my duty, I don't get the time. But I do put out tutorials sometimes. I love putting out videos because if they bring a smile even to a limited number of faces, I consider myself lucky. Owing to my profession, I see a lot only a daily basis and I have realised at the end of it all, it's about spreading positivity.
HS: How do you balance your real and virtual lives?
RN: Honestly, the realisation of people knowing me hasn’t hit hard yet. With us being holed up in the same room for hours and not being able to see my family for days together and then having to do all the tedious chores after long hours of duty is what my normal day right now. However, I have a very close set of friends that keep me grounded.
HS: How do you take care of your mental health in these trying times?
RN: It is tough for all of us right now. Some of my close one's have also been detected positive for COVID-19 but I have seen so many patients recover. I feel that we should try to be as positive as possible, not get the negativity get in the way and drain us emotionally. We must have faith that eventually things will get better. It will be surprising to see how much a positive outlook can bring some unknown strength from within us that will help us fight this phase off. It's about being cautious, not careless. Being positive not ignorant!
HS: How has your perspective towards the profession changed post COVID-19?
RN: It definitely has changed. I have realised that how much ever we may crib about long duty hours or less equipment or how tired we get etc, we don't ever let these things get in the way of treating someone. Despite these issues, I have personally never seen my tribe letting it affect the treatments of patients and that is a great learning for me as well.