Second wave: Many dental, eye clinics close their doors

A slit lamp examination being done using barrier shields and protective gear.  

The second wave of COVID-19 infections, which experts are admitting is a more aggressive one, has started to make an impact on practices such as dental and opthamology, where doctors are in close proximity to patients.

While some clinics have decided to remain closed until the situation improves, the number of patients too has seen a drop with most preferring to remain indoors. Clinics that have chosen to remain open are tweaking their functioning to meet the new challenges.

Manjunath B.M., PRO of a well known eye-hospital in the city, said they are taking in patients in batches while following all protocols. “We have an app where new patients are given online consultations and then appointments, if required. For old patients, it is easier as we already have their records. Those with COVID-19 symptoms are not allowed inside as they are a risk to other patients.”

“Last year, we didn’t know anything about the infection. Now we are better prepared so we don’t have to close,” he said, adding that with their staff and a bulk of patients vaccinated, there is more confidence to remain open.

Secretary of the Indian Dental Association, Bengaluru branch, Sudarshan Sajjan said the same protocols and guidelines brought out during the first wave have been sent to all dentists. “But a lot of them are scared and have shut down practice as the second wave is more aggressive. Those who are open are implementing different scheduling to sterilise the system after each patient,” he said.

With online consultations not possible in many cases, those who are open are obliging cases with emergency need for treatment or referring them to clinics which are open, he said. Walk-ins too have reduced, he said. Dentists and their staff are, however, much more comfortable with availability of PPE kits and other requirements this time, he added, recalling the shortage of last year.

Y.L. Rajashekar, president, Karnataka Ophthalmic Society, cautioned patients against delaying treatment. “Last time, a lot of people went blind. People with glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataract came with advanced eye diseases,” he said. “We are taking cases by appointment and spacing them out. We are also not allowing attendants unless the patient is very old. Slit lamp examination is done using barrier shields and protective gear,” he said.

But with cases mounting, not everyone is convinced. Anjana (name changed on request) said, “I needed to get my eyes checked out because of blurred vision and headaches, but the ophthalmologist has closed his clinic till May 5. I tried four other clinics that I knew of and all of them were either shut or were only seeing emergency cases. I finally got an appointment at a popular hospital which is also treating COVID 19 patients, but cancelled for fear that I would be exposed to the virus.”

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 5:00:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/second-wave-many-dental-eye-clinics-close-their-doors/article34409492.ece

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