Coronavirus | Doctors’ body in West Bengal urges separate facilities for healthworkers

A makeshift tent installed at Geetanjali Stadium, which has been converted into a COVID-19 care centre for patients with mild symptoms, in Kolkata, West Bengal on August 3, 2020.

A makeshift tent installed at Geetanjali Stadium, which has been converted into a COVID-19 care centre for patients with mild symptoms, in Kolkata, West Bengal on August 3, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The doctors’ body that had been vocal against the West Bengal government’s handling of the COVID-19 situation but is now partnering it in fighting the pandemic, has suggested a series of measures to unclog hospitals and boost the morale of healthcare workers.

Coronavirus, August 3 updates

The measures recommended by West Bengal Doctors’ Forum include creation of a dedicated facility for treating healthcare providers who test positive; cutting down on formalities (which include the long wait for approval from insurance companies) that delay the discharge of patients from hospitals; and forming of a uniform isolation protocol that will also help free beds.

The recommendations came after a team of the Forum, which was recently invited by the State government to formally join its efforts, visited two hospitals and four isolation centres last week to make an assessment of the situation on the ground. The State, at the moment, is recording close to 3,000 cases a day.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

“Ours is a fact-finding and not a fault-finding exercise. The fight against COVID-19 is going to be difficult but it is not impossible, provided we keep our heads cool,” said Dr. Kaushik Chaki, honorary secretary of the Forum, who was with the team.

Setting up a dedicated facility to treat healthcare providers has been one of the Forum’s key demands from the beginning.

“The mortality rate among healthcare workers is high, which is natural because their virus load is high. People who treat others cannot go running around for a bed when they are infected. The government should immediately create level-3 and level-4 facilities for them. Besides, we have also recommended breaking down their shifts into shorter durations. It is extremely difficult for them to work for 12 hours at a stretch wearing PPE suits,” Dr. Chaki said.

State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates

According to him, the Forum has also called for a uniform isolation protocol. At the moment, patients being treated in a hospital are usually discharged after 10 days and asked to remain in self-isolation for another seven days, whereas those admitted in a ‘safe home’ (isolation centre) with mild symptoms are required to spend 14 days in the facility and another seven days in self-isolation.

Also, quite often, outgoing patients, out of personal choice or compulsion, prefer to spend the last seven days of isolation at the hospital instead of home; each such patient thus blocks a bed for a week. “Such patients should be sent to safe homes,” Dr. Chaki said.

The Forum also recommended increased digital monitoring of patients’ vitals in hospitals as well as safe homes so that it decreases the burden on the nursing staff who have to manually record readings periodically. It also suggested installation of centralised alarm systems that will alert medical staff in case a monitor shows unusual readings.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 2:33:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/coronavirus-doctors-body-in-west-bengal-urges-separate-facilities-for-healthworkers/article32260386.ece

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