In pandemic wave, non-COVID patients too are feeling the heat

Some are scared to visit hospitals while online consulting is limited to pvt. hospitals

Updated - May 12, 2021 11:43 pm IST

Published - May 12, 2021 11:42 pm IST - New Delhi

A non-COVID patient being brought in for admission at GTB Hospital in the Capital on Wednesday.

A non-COVID patient being brought in for admission at GTB Hospital in the Capital on Wednesday.

Many non-COVID patients have embraced online consultation, but what has made their plight worse is that government hospitals are not venturing into online consultation on a large scale, said doctors in the city.

Furthermore, most hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients, some are now dedicated centres. People are afraid to go to hospitals where COVID-19 patients are also treated, doctors said.

“Non-COVID patients are facing a lot of difficulties. There are a limited number of hospitals providing treatment only to non-COVID patients,” Girish Tyagi, Secretary of the Delhi Medical Council, said.

This is true especially for pregnant women and heart patients. “For Heart patients or pregnant women, it is very difficult to get admission. In private hospitals, tele-consultation is strong. But in govt. hospitals, it is not happening much. There should be more govt. hospitals, exclusively for non-COVID patients. We get many calls for non-COVID emergencies. People are confused a lot. Emergencies are filled with COVID patients, others can’t go in there,” said Dr. Tyagi.

Limited reach

At the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH), there is no online consultation for non-COVID-19 patients and at Lok Nayak Hospital, it is very limited.

“For non-COVID patients, there are ILBS, GB Pant, Delhi State Cancer Institute and other hospitals. But we do not do an online consultation,” a doctor at the RGSSH said.

When asked whether people who had been undergoing treatment for non-COVID health problems are contacting the hospital, the doctor said: “Many of them are taking the medicine and are at home. Most of them know that we are a COVID-19 facility now. People are afraid and they are not coming to enquire. Even for vaccinations, people do not want to come to hospitals. They only want to go to schools.”

A Delhi govt. spokesperson said that government hospitals are not doing online consultation as “non-COVID patients can be seen in person”.

Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of Lok Nayak Hospital, said that at the hospital they were attending to certain patients during COVID-19 too. “Those with HIV, hepatitis C, hemophilia, thalassemia, etc. we have been seeing them as they needed regular treatment,” he said. About online consultation, he said they help the patients a “little bit”. “If the patient contacts individual departments [we do], but we do not do it on a large scale,” he added.

Surgeries postponed

Harsh Vardhan Puri, Senior Consultant, Thoracic Surgeon of Medanta Hospital, said they have postponed most surgeries and were seeing patients mostly on tele or video consultation. “We are doing cancer-related surgeries, which cannot wait. Even in this case, most of the patients are told to do an RT-PCR test and 10-15% of them turn out to be positive,” Dr. Puri said.

“People do not want to go to a hospital. They are scared. Non-COVID patients are suffering and people are hiding symptoms to not go to a hospital. Last week, a 62-year-old patient had a minor heart attack at home. Though he felt difficulty, he didn’t tell the family and only told them when he was about to collapse,” Dr. Puri said.

Dr. Puri also said that the government hospitals are not conducting online consultation at the scale it was being done by private hospitals.

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