The pandemic was a challenging time for many private hospitals as regular outpatient department and surgeries came to a standstill. However, hospitals are back on their feet over the past few months.
Navin Gnanasekaran, associate director of medical services, MGM Healthcare, said: “During the peak of COVID-19, we had very few outpatient departments and elective surgeries. From physical OPDs, we moved to teleconsultations. Emergency services were always active. However, over the last four to five months, we have resumed all routine services. We are seeing around 300 to 500 outpatients a day now.
“Non-COVID admissions have increased significantly,” he said. During the peak of pandemic, 80% admissions were patients with the viral infection.
“Now, about 25% are COVID-19 admissions, and remaining are all non-COVID admissions. Teleconsultations have reduced while our walk-in OPD visits have gone up, as many patients prefer in-person consultation with doctors. Elective surgeries are regularly being performed. Earlier, among the daycare procedures, only dialysis was active besides emergency procedures. Now, we have dialysis, chemotherapy, endoscopy, radiological and cardiological interventional procedures being done regularly,” Dr. Gnanasekaran said.
One of the indicators of normalcy was the rise in the number of people coming in for master health check-up. Among the transformations ushered in by COVID-19 were innovations such as remote monitoring of patients, healthcare digitisation and stringent clinical protocols, Dr. Gnanasekaran said.
A medical director of another private hospital said all regular services were resumed a month ago and on an average, the hospital received 400 outpatients a day. “With good screening and isolation of COVID-19 patients, we have resumed services. The number of sick COVID-19 patients is down dramatically. Elective procedures have reached pre-COVID levels. The patient inflow for other services has improved like pre-COVID times,” he said.
With normalcy returning, doctors are facing another challenge. “Many are presenting late. We see many patients with cancers of the head and neck — that is involving the larynx, throat and cheek — in an advanced stage. They knew they had a problem but did not seek help due to COVID-19. But in these conditions a few months is a long time,” said Mohan Kameswaran, managing director of Madras ENT Research Foundation.