Tuesday, March 28

Hospitals adopt new measures, tweak strategies to protect healthcare workers

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More than a hundred healthworkers in Kolkata have so far been infected by Covid and two have died. Two leading hospitals had to shut down after more than a dozen of their doctors, nurses and other staffers tested positive. While the rate of infection has come down over the past month, healthcare workers continue to be infected and remain among the most vulnerable. This has led hospitals to adopt stricter strategies and alter their functioning to prevent transmission.

Peerless Hospital, which had to shut down for a fortnight in April, admitted that it had failed to gauge the seriousness of the situation when the pandemic began. It led to a spate of infection among doctors and nurses. “Ever since, we have shifted our Covid unit twice and restructured it entirely to make sure that transmission is blocked. We now have a PPE policy in place and none is allowed to come in contact with those working at the isolation units without proper gear. Every nurse has to serve a quarantine period after a week’s duty at the Covid unit,” said Peerless CEO Sudipta Mitra.

AMRI Hospitals has introduced robots to interact with Covid patients. These are controlled by doctors who don’t have to risk transmission by entering the unit. It has also helped to curb the use of PPE. “Being at the forefront, our doctors are at high risk and need to be protected. They are the most valuable resource at a time like this and we can’t afford to lose them. So we are always thinking of ways to reduce their exposure,” said AMRI CEO Rupak Barua.

Some, like Fortis Hospital, have drawn up another strategy to reduce doctors’ exposure to Covid patients. The hospital follows the ‘buddy system’, under which, a senior doctor is accompanied by a junior doctor or a nurse who are put in charge of a set of patients. “They stick to the same group of patients and can stand in for one another if necessary, thus reducing exposure time. Also, no healthcare worker who visits the Covid unit is allowed to enter the non-Covid sections,” said Fortis pulmonologist Raja Dhar.

But it is not just at hospitals that healthcare workers have got infected. A senior private hospital medic — who was the second Kolkata doctor to die of Covid in April — had apparently contracted the virus at a private chamber. According to his colleagues, there was no Covid patient or suspect at the hospital where he worked. An oncologist had to quarantine himself after he came in contact with a senior government hospital medic who had got the virus from his neighbourhood. “Transmission at home or from residential areas is a major threat. This is why we have been trying to keep our Covid doctors at the hospital or in rented accommodations nearby,” said a private hospital official.

Source:Times of India

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