COVID-19 | No counsellors to counter anxiety

An ambulance entering the well-guarded isolation block of the Gandhi Hospital on Saturday.

An ambulance entering the well-guarded isolation block of the Gandhi Hospital on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

As anxiety overflows in the COVID-19 isolation wards, doctors and nurses in the State-run hospitals have been fielding a range of queries posed by patients and suspects of the contagious disease for the past month. Out of restlessness, some suspects even walk out of the wards seeking answers.

Family members of suspects said that besides waiting for long hours for test results, their aged parents have had to struggle to get medicines. “My diabetic father made many requests for chapatis in place of rice. My mother got her hypertension medicines after repeatedly asking for days together. My father is admitted at Gandhi Hospital, worrying about what awaits him,” said a man in his 40s who was also admitted as a suspect.

‘No flow of information’

A COVID-19 patient, who recently got discharged, recalled how a 70-year-old with diabetes in the isolation ward had to request for chapatis multiple times.

“There is no flow of information,” she said.

Situations such as this are commonly observed at Gandhi Hospital, Government General and Chest Hospital, Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Tropical and Communicable Diseases where COVID-19 patients and suspects are admitted.

Healthcare professionals on COVID-19 duty for the past one month broadly pointed to four stress situations — when suspects expect their test results at the earliest; when one’s sample is sent for retest to confirm if they are cured; when a patient wants to know if he/she is showing improvements or not; and finally, when they ask about getting discharged and how to battle the stigma that awaits them. Questions are aplenty, but the answers come rarely as doctors plead lack of time.

In such a scenario, the healthcare staff have appealed to the State government to appoint a host of counsellors who can pacify anxious patients and suspects. “Imagine the anxiety one experiences when they are suspected of having COVID-19. They will play out multiple possibilities in their minds and that, often, is not in their control. Some possibilities might be extreme. So, we are doing our best in treating them. But we need trained counsellors who can have face-to-face conversations with the patients or suspects and calm them down,” said a doctor.

Officials said that two counsellors had been appointed at Gandhi Hospital, but they got overwhelmed as the number of suspects slowly ran into hundreds.

A senior doctor at Gandhi Hospital said not just in-patients, their family members too call them repeatedly with multiple queries. “They are bound to have questions which they want to get cleared at the earliest and we need a system to address this issue,” said the doctor, adding that the number of questions has been rising with the increase in the number of admissions.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 8:02:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/covid-19-no-counsellors-to-counter-anxiety/article31259551.ece

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