Kerala

Non-COVID care hit at MCHs

Treatment is either delayed or patients are asked to go to private hospitals

The surge in COVID-19 cases has once again left non-COVID-19 patients in the lurch in medical college hospitals (MCHs) and other public sector tertiary-care centres.

As government MCHs, which cater to a chunk of the population from the lower economic strata requiring tertiary-care treatments, are getting filled with COVID-19 patients, the care requirements of the non-COVID clientele are either being shunted to private hospitals or getting postponed indefinitely.

Access issues

Apart from access issues and delays in treatment, outbreak of COVID-19 inside the non-COVID pool in hospitals has put treatment on hold in many places with the entire clinical departments being shut down.

“COVID-19 has eclipsed everything else. The number of outpatient departments catering to chronic diseases has been restricted and surgeries are delayed or postponed indefinitely. While we cannot ascertain the numbers, the delays have been affecting the treatment outcomes besides aggravating complications,” a senior doctor in the Thiruvananthapuram Government MCH says.

There are many doctors who feel strongly that the MCHs, which handle complex tertiary-care treatments on a daily basis, should not have been made COVID hospitals. Many doctors in key clinical departments such as Nephrology, General Surgery, Gastroenterology and Urology, who see patients with malignancies or pre-malignant conditions, say they are quite concerned how the reduced access to treatment can affect the treatment outcomes.

“The beds for non-COVID patients have been cut, various departments have to share wards and operation theatres and the nursing staff have been diverted for duty in COVID ward. The waiting period for various surgeries has gone up indefinitely and it is not like our patients can afford to go to private hospitals,” the senior doctor adds.

Case of capital

Non-COVID patients are also being shunted to private hospitals. In Thiruvananthapuram, where the surge in COVID-19 has seriously affected hospitals and health-care workers, the government has directed the MCH administration to shift most of its non-COVID care, except emergencies, to the private health sector, it is learnt.

Doctors say this will compromise the care of poor patients who cannot afford to go to the private sector. Most of the private hospitals are unhappy with the rates of the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhati and it is likely that many poor patients will be either turned away or have to find funding elsewhere to finance their care.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 3:25:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/non-covid-care-getting-affected-in-mchs/article32248474.ece

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