Sunday, December 5

Patients can keep mobiles in select corona hospitals now

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Two months after the state banned cellphones inside Covid-19 wards, several hospitals have relaxed the stringent protocol and are allowing patients to keep their smartphones with them.
Officials of at least two hospitals TOI spoke to said they had relaxed the norms realizing the current state of the patients who have been repeatedly requesting the officials to allow cellphones, mostly to keep themselves engaged and entertained.

“We have to realise that most Covid-19 patients are not bedridden or too sick. Most of them have mild fever which on other times doesn’t even need hospitalization. Hence, to spend their days in the hospital, they need some sort of entertainment to keep themselves engaged. We are still discouraging their use as cellphones are potential source spreading he infection but if they insist we are no longer stopping them,” said a senior official of MR Bangur Hospital.

A senior official of Kolkata Medical College and Hospital, too, said they had also relaxed the cellphone norm. “We are allowing cellphones strictly for entertainment purpose and not for any sort of mischief. Seeing other patients and health workers in PPE without getting to see family members, it gets very difficult for them,” said a senior doctor of the hospital.

An “oversight” on the part of M R Bangur authorities had the state health department issue an urgent directive on April 21, banning mobile phones inside Covid-19 wards after a video clip by a suspected Covid patient had gone viral. The video clip, shared extensively on social media, showed a plastic-covered corpse lying on one of the beds of the hospital ward.

Acting on the directive, cellphones were taken away from all patients and over the next few weeks, several measures — from keeping wireless and landlines in the wards to initiating video-calling hours — were introduced by different hospitals to allow patients keep in touch with their family members.

However, with passing weeks, the hospital officials realized banning cellphones was dampening the morale of the patients. In fact, in a recent meeting at Nabanna between association of health service doctors and chief minister Mamata Banerjee and senior health department officials, a group of doctors had requested the state to allow mobile phones with patients.

“The directive had never come in the form of an official order that made it easier on our part to lift the ban. We are still asking them not to make videos inside the ward and share them on social media,” said an official of MR Bangur Hospital.

Some hospitals like Beliaghata ID are, however, still sticking to the directive, an official of the hospital said, stressing cellphones were still banned and patients continued to interact with their relatives using landlines.

Source:Times of India

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