COVID-19 restrictions hit other patients hard

Affected: At Victoria Hospital, where the government plans to set up a dedicated COVID-19 facility, not just outpatients, even inpatients are finding it hard .   | Photo Credit: SAMPATH KUMAR G.P.

The COVID-19 restrictions in hospitals have hit patients with other ailments hard. Despite the government making it clear that hospitals are not to turn away emergency cases, some are not attending to even those in advanced labour.

Cases have been reported of patients from across the State running from pillar to post to get medical aid during emergencies. With COVID-19 being the main concern now, even an outbreak of cholera in Bengaluru did not get much attention.

Shutters down

While smaller private hospitals and clinics in some areas have downed shutters on their own, bigger hospitals have put up boards asking patients to visit only in cases of emergency. Some have even started video and telephonic consultations. On Thursday, the government permitted registered medical practitioners to provide tele-consultation to patients with minor ailments and those whose medical history is known to them.

However, patients who need to see a doctor immediately for emergencies not related to COVID-19 are facing difficulties.

Two days ago, a 20-year-old domestic help at Rajanakunte, who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, had to run from one hospital to another in Yelahanka and surrounding areas seeking help.

Chaya Bhatia, a resident of a gated community at Rajanakunte, who found the woman in total distress in front of a medical shop, said she had no baby movement and was in severe pain. The woman, who first went to a government hospital in Yelahanka, was asked to get an ultrasound scan done from outside. Nishant Bhatia, son of Ms. Bhatia, said, “After the scan, she was told that her baby was no more and that she had to undergo a procedure. However, as there was no doctor available on the day, she was asked to come at a later date, which is shocking.”

Mr. Bhatia, with the help of some other residents of the gated community, got the woman admitted at a private polyclinic, where she underwent the procedure. “The lockdown is causing a lot of inconvenience to poor patients,” he said.

Case in Dandeli

On Monday, at Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district, the family of a 33-year-old woman, who was also in an advanced stage of labour, desperately tried to get her medical attention. “All private hospitals in Dandeli are closed and the staff at the general hospital refused to take responsibility. The family was asked to take her to Hubballi, which is 75 km away. They somehow managed to get her there,” said Mohammad Iqbal Shaikh, secretary of Anjuuman-e-Ahle Sunnat, an organisation in Dandeli.

At Victoria Hospital, where the government has proposed to set up a dedicated COVID-19 facility, not just outpatients, even inpatients are finding it hard as they are being asked to get discharged as soon as they are stabilised.

“If government hospitals refuse to attend to us on the ground that all doctors are busy with COVID-19 cases, where can we go?” asked Manjamma, who had brought her ailing daughter to Victoria Hospital earlier this week.

S. Srinivas, State secretary of Indian Medical Association, said although hospitals have been asked not to turn away emergency cases, there may be some exceptions at some hospitals where the staff may not be able to get to work because of the lockdown, especially in rural and peripheral areas. “But emergencies such as pregnancies cannot be delayed. We will issue an advisory in this regard,” he said.

‘Rectifying issues’

Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education), said, “We are in the process of rectifying these issues. We have only said electives and non-essential cases can be deferred. If any specific cases of emergency refused are brought to our notice, we will initiate action against the hospital,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 2:35:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/covid-19-restrictions-hit-other-patients-hard/article31188042.ece

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