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COVID-19: Family Doctors Play Crucial Role In Treating Patients, Says Maharashtra Task Force Member

Maharashtra Covid Task Force member Dr Ashesh Bhumkar.

Maharashtra Covid Task Force member Dr Ashesh Bhumkar.

Dr Ashesh Bhumkar said a family doctor's role in treating Covid-19 patients is crucial as he/she would know a patient’s medical history

Family doctors are often the first stop for patients in case of any health-related issues. The Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Recently, at a virtual medical conference involving over 17,000 family physicians from across Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urged all such medical practitioners to treat patients in home isolation — which he said would help reduce the fatality rate.

Speaking to news18.com, Maharashtra Covid Task Force member Dr Ashesh Bhumkar said family doctors are able to make a reasonable impression about a person’s core health as well as what works or what does not due to constant interaction not just with patient but also with the entire family. He also stressed the virtue of intellect, intuition and instinct among doctors.

“Because this is health. Human life and medicine are not an algorithm… For example, in a family everyone eats the same food, but some gain weight and some don’t. This is something… which a family doctor is able to comprehend. This cannot be put into words or figures, but that feeling that he has about the person is very important,” he said.


According to Dr Bhumkar, this is key in the time of Covid. He said there is more to comorbidities, which aggravate the Covid-19 infection, than we understand at this point. In the end, it’s not just about comorbid conditions such as high sugar levels or blood pressure. It’s about the constitution of a person.

For example, a family doctor would know a patient’s history of diabetes and how the smallest possible assault of carbohydrates or sugar-rich diets could change the patient’s sugar levels. In such a case, the doctor could flag the threat level of mucormycosis, or black fungus, in a particular Covid patient, thereby helping the patient and attendants act in time, he explained.


The questions we ask are important, Dr Bhumkar said. For example, a wrong question is: how can we treat Covid? Our question should have been: how does a Covid patient gets cured?

“When we asked ‘how can we treat Covid?’…(we) almost assumed that we will get some red, blue, green tablet or blue, white, yellow injection that will rid us of Covid. That was not the case,” he said.

The reality is that even today, after so many months, we do not have anti-Covid anti-viral. “We have anti-viral which are supposed to be having some effect on the Covid virus, but the truth is that we don’t have an anti-Covid drug that actually concurrently kills the Covid virus in the human body. At best we treat complication that arise and we try to minimise them,” he said.


For most part, the Covid treatment needs proper medical awareness among patients. This also includes importance of rest. “It means complete physical rest, one where you do not spend the oxygen your body has…the whole game of Covid is about oxygen and oxygen conservation,” Dr Bhumkar said.

Oxygen saved is oxygen earned, and this can be drilled in, he maintained. A patient trusts the family doctor more than any other doctor.


“A family doctor is also your panic management person. We all know that common sense is soluble in panic. To be able to decrease the panic, one has to find somebody whom one can trust. Because when one does not have something in which one can believe or trust, that is where panic begins,” Dr Bhumkar said.

He added that mystery is the mother of panic, and solutions and answers are antidote to panic. “The family doctor provides one that platform where panic can be grossly minimised or not allowed to take route. This is where the family doctor comes in,” he said.

If and when a patient will need to be shifted to hospital, a family doctor’s notes would carry tremendous bearing on the future medical management of the patient and for ongoing follow-ups, Dr Bhumkar said.

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first published:May 22, 2021, 17:36 IST