Coronavirus | Non-COVID-19 patients find care out of reach at Mumbai hospitals

Nowhere to go: The hospital ‘protocols’ have left patients with other health ailments at the risk of deteriorating conditions and running from one hospital to another.   | Photo Credit: PTI

At 2 a.m. on Thursday, a young media professional diagnosed with malaria, experienced a sudden spike in fever. But the closest hospital near her Mahim home said told her she should not come in for a consultation till she had a COVID-19 negative report in hand.

Scarred by COVID-19 patient encounters that have infected many healthcare workers and have forced some hospitals to shut down, many medical institutions have made it a norm to demand proof of a patient being COVID-19 negative before treatment. This has left patients with other health ailments at the risk of deteriorating conditions and running from one hospital to another.

The doctor at the emergency department of SL Raheja Hospital in Mahim where the media person first sought help, said she would not be taken in for any treatment until she had a COVID-19 negative report. When told that her condition was serious, he said he could not break the hospital’s protocol.

The woman then checked with the Hinduja Hospital also in Mahim where the doctor on duty said she could come down only if she did not reside in any of the containment zones.

Also read: In Mumbai, woman dies after shuttling between hospitals

“At Hinduja, they checked my vital parameters outside the hospital premises, asked for my residential proof to confirm I was not from a containment area and then took me into the emergency department where I was put on an intravenous drip,” said the woman, whose fever had spiked to 104F. “I was delirious, giddy and on the verge of collapsing,” she recalled.

A check by The Hindu with a few other hospitals in the city revealed that the demand for a COVID-19 report had become the norm.

At Bandra’s Lilavati Hospital, a doctor at the COVID-19 screening area told this reporter to first go to a local physician, get a prescription for a COVID-19 test and then call a private laboratory for home collection of the sample. “Meanwhile, give paracetamol to the patient thrice a day and sponge from head to toe except for the chest area,” the doctor said.

Even if a patient does adhere to the hospitals’ demand for a certification, private laboratories currently take three to four days to give COVID-19 reports.

Not correct procedure

“A patient’s condition may get worse during this period,” said Dr Daksha Shah, deputy executive health officer, adding that hospitals were wrong to make such demands.

“All hospitals have to follow universal precautionary measures so that if patients seeking treatment for other ailments test positive for COVID-19, the hospital staff would have already taken safety precautions,” said Dr Shah, adding that non-COVID patients cannot be left to suffer during the outbreak.

A spokesperson from the SL Raheja Hospital said their triage beds were full, due to which they could not take the patient for admission. “A high level of suspicion needs to be maintained before admitting a patient in the non-COVID section to safeguard the health of the other patients, caregivers and support staff. COVID-19 can co-exist with other ailments, hence requisite precautions must be taken. Lastly, malaria cases do not warrant hospital admission unless there are complications associated with it,” said the spokesperson.

Calls and text messages to Dr Ajaykumar Pande, vice-president of Lilavati Hospital went unanswered.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:27:32 AM |

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