Faced with acute shortage of healthcare staff on account of coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) infections and self-isolation, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-Bhubaneswar announced the closure of its walk-in Out-Patient Department (OPD) for the general public from Friday.
AIIMS-Bhubaneswar is the latest addition to the list of leading referral hospitals in Odisha, after three Cuttack-based facilities – SCB Medical College Hospital, Acharya Harihar Post Graduate Institute of Cancer, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics (Sishubhawan) – to close OPD services on account of rising cases of infections.
“ About 31 staff members, including 11 doctors, have tested positive since March . Only seven of them have recovered. Many colleagues of the infected members of staff have gone into quarantine. Some staff are stranded in containment zones,” said Gitanjali Batmanabane, Director, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, on Thursday.
In the past 24 hours, three employees, including a service provider, have tested positive in AIIMS-Bhubaneswar. About 250-300 staff members, including some doctors of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, have been in self-isolation to prevent the spread of the virus.
Reduced staff strength
“There has been considerable reduction in our staff strength. We need to redeploy whatever staff we have. We are closing down walk-in OPD services, but the OPD would continue through telemedicine. We are also launching an application called AIIMS-Bhubaneswar Swasthya App on Friday,” said Dr. Batmanabane.
Other departments such as casualty, dialysis and radiotherapy services continue as usual. AIIMS-Bhubaneswar has a dedicated COVID-19 block with a 206-bed capacity. About 75 beds are currently occupied.
Dr. Batmanabane said AIIMS-Bhubaneswar had enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other safety kits. “We face regular challenges when some staff or patients tests positive. Then we have to make sure that the block is immediately sanitised. Hospital infection control emerges as a major headache for us,” she said.
She added, “Protecting healthcare workers, who are exposed or at-risk of exposure to the virus, is something we are worried about. It is easy to provide PPE, but difficult to ensure they are properly donned and discarded.”
Highest single-day spike
Odisha on Thursday registered its highest single day spike in cases, with 577 new COVID-19 cases taking the State’s tally to 11,201. While 416 cases were detected from quarantine centres, 161 were from the community. After recovery of 7,006 cases, active cases stood at 4,128.
With four new COVID-19 fatalities, the death toll has reached 52. The State government said 15 deaths had taken place due to other reasons.
Ganjam district continued to be the worst affected district, with 3,096 total positive cases. Thirty of the 52 COVID-19 deaths were reported from Ganjam.