Healthcare workers in New London, Connecticut are forming a unique relationship with doctors in Nepal. Separated by more than 7,000 miles, the two groups of medical workers share a common bond: working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There is so much we need to learn from each other to get ahead of this pandemic," said Dr. Prakash Kandel, who works at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital (L&M) in New London.
Frontline workers from L&M joined a webinar with doctors from five different hospitals in Nepal in the middle of December to share experiences and knowledge from the pandemic. L&M, a part of the Yale New Haven Health system, hosted the call with Small Earth Nepal and the Rotary Club of Kathmandu.
Bishal Pradhanang, a respiratory therapist at L&M, had the idea to connect with Nepal in the beginning of the pandemic. The frontline worker lives in Rhode Island with his wife and children, but the rest of his family is in Nepal, where he is originally from. He knew Nepal had limited resources and might have trouble responding to the pandemic.
"That time was a struggle for everyone," said Pradhanang. "But then I thought, what if we can do something for Nepal?"
Pradhanang started talking to his coworker, who is also from Nepal. Dr. Prakash Kandel shared the same concerns.
“Obviously I was torn between my responsibilities here and my family back home," said Kandel.
COVID cases in Nepal started to peak in October and November. That is when Pradhanang got in touch with a personal contact at Small Earth Nepal, an organization promoting sustainable lifestyles in the country. Pradhanang coordinated with Small Earth Nepal, Yale New Haven Health and the Rotary Club of Kathmandu to host a webinar, bringing the doctors in each country together to share their experiences.
The first webinar focused on COVID-19 preparedness and response, operational processes, early interventions and precautions taken by staff.
Dr. Chris Song, from L&M, was an audience member in the webinar.
"What struck me the most was the similarity in the experience. The courage of the folks who were taking care of the neediest, the most vulnerable and also the ingenuity," said Song.
Dr. Kabita Hada Batajoo works at Kist Medical College in Nepal. She was one of five doctors from Nepal who spoke at the first webinar.
“It was a very nice platform to share our experiences," said Dr. Hada Batajoo.
The doctors said that they hope continued collaboration and discussions can help save more lives.
“One thing that I learned from this pandemic is that team work is the best solution," said Bishal Pradhanang.