Hyderabad

Social distancing is the new order at corporate hospital OP sections

(From top) Social distancing norms in place at the waiting hall of a corporate hospital in Secunderabad, to protect patients, staff and visitors from COVID-19 virus; distancing rules being followed by PPE-donning doctors at the hospital.

(From top) Social distancing norms in place at the waiting hall of a corporate hospital in Secunderabad, to protect patients, staff and visitors from COVID-19 virus; distancing rules being followed by PPE-donning doctors at the hospital.   | Photo Credit: G. RAMAKRISHNA

Patients, staff screened at main entrance; those with symptoms are diverted to a separate ward

The government may have relaxed lockdown guidelines in the first week of May, but out-patient department (OPD) services in corporate hospitals have enforced rigorous physical distancing norms.

They are also geared up to face the twin challenge of seasonal diseases along with COVID-19 cases in the next two months.

A visit to a few corporate hospitals shows patients are greeted with a totally transformed ambience with unprecedented screening, segregation and physical distancing maintained in every sphere of hospital services. Patients with fever, cough and cold are diverted at the entrance (triage) itself from general areas to pulmonology and general medicine OPs.

A reassurance

Patients and attendants seem reassured to enter into the highly sanitised environment with mandatory masks, hand sanitisers, thermo scanners being the first ring of protection to allow anyone to enter the hospital for OPD services.

There used to be a fear among people that hospitals are hotspots for catching COVID infection in the early days of lockdown. With no public transport, many preferred OP services through tele-medicine extended by corporate hospitals. Only chronic patients and those with urgent health issues were going to hospital OPDs, said Pavan Gorukanti, director of Yashoda Hospitals.

A new set of norms, Standard Operating Procedures, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for every one — patients, attendants and hospital staff — are in place to keep transmission of infection at bay. The number of OP patients is now touching 600 per day as against the normal of 1,400-plus per day before lockdown, he said.

“We redesigned and re-arranged not only the OPDs but also in-patient and emergency wards as well as ICUs. More so in dialysis and oncology/chemotherapy and other day care services for vulnerable patients where patients also have to wear face shields along with doctors and nurses in special PPE. All this is done in line with norms stipulated by the World Health Organisation and District Medical and Health Office,” said G. Vijay Kumar, unit head, Yashoda Hospitals, Secunderabad.

Separate isolation floor

The hospital has a separate isolation floor with a dedicated lift for patients with COVID symptoms. When their samples test positive, the patients are sent to Gandhi Hospital, said clinical director Venkata Ramana Kola. General out patients too are separated and sent straight to the respective OPD with a separate lift to minimise exposure to others.

Care Hospitals group launched ‘Operation Suraksha’ and got consultants and staff on board before announcement of lockdown and follows stringent protocols, PPE, procedures for safety of patients and staff, said A.K. Das, group chief, Medical Services.

Those with fever, cold and cough screened at the entrance of out-patient block itself are sent directly to Fever Room as suspected cases of COVID and a consultant tests them there itself.

If hospitalisation is warranted, they are sent to the main hospital from out-patient block itself.

For other patients, physical distancing is enforced in waiting rooms with glass barriers in consultation rooms, diagnostic area and billing counters. In the hospital, an hourly alert comes through public announcement system to use hand wash and every one complies.

The OPD is now clocking 250 to 300 patients per day while it was 600 to 800 per day before lockdown. Only one attendant per patient is allowed, said hospital COO Riaz.

Apollo Group Hospitals has stepped up protocols and every entrant, be it a patient or staff, is screened for COVID symptoms and suspected cases are sent to fever clinic. If hospitalisation is required, they are admitted in separate block outside the main hospital in Jubilee Hills. If samples test positive, they continue treatment in the COVID block with government permission.

More outpatients

With word of mouth publicity about visibly safe environment in OPDs, the number of outpatients has increased manifold in the past 10 days. Human touch will never go out of medicine, opines group president Hari Prasad.

The protocols for protection against COVID are updated every week. Vulnerable patients and the elderly with co-morbidities, who are susceptible to infections, are counselled more now to follow precautions even at home. In due course, COVID-19 will become another infectious disease to be notified like dengue or TB, Dr Hari Prasad added.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 6:55:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/social-distancing-is-the-new-order-at-corporate-hospital-op-sections/article31609788.ece

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