Friday, March 24

Post-Covid clinic to fight stigma

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Doctors running a follow-up clinic at the Beleghata ID hospital for those who have recovered from Covid-19 have decided to treat such people and their family for any disease following complaints of stigmatisation.

The doctors running the clinic have found that mental stress bothered those cured of Covid-19 more than any physical weakness.

Complaints of stigmatisation have ranged from being refused blood tests at a laboratory once technicians got to know that the person had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 a few weeks ago to someone being declared dead by neighbours even after getting cured and returning home.

One patient even told doctors over phone that he was worried for his family members because they might not get medical treatment if the need arose. Such conversations prompted the doctors to open the clinic doors to even families of those cured of Covid-19.

“The stigma of having been a Covid-19 patient is worrying those cured of the disease. Some told us over phone that they were worried about general treatment for their families,” Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, a public health specialist and the doctor who is in charge of the follow-up clinic at the Beleghata ID hospital, said.

“We have told them that they can bring their family members to the clinic for any illness. We will treat them. In case we feel they need specialised care, we will refer them to speciality clinics in other government hospitals.”

He cited the example of a man from Bansdroni who went to a laboratory for a routine blood test. The laboratory had drawn his blood sample when they got to know he had been admitted to hospital for Covid-19 a few weeks ago. Laboratory officials told the man his blood sample could not be tested.

A police officer had to deal with mental trauma after his neighbours thought he had died. “Those cured of Covid-19 need counselling and mental support,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Yogiraj Ray, an infectious disease specialist attached to the clinic, said many of those cured of Covid-19 had chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. They need regular medical care and if doctors refuse to treat them, they will be in trouble, Ray said. “We will help them deal with their chronic ailments.”

The clinic now has five doctors. Besides Bandyopadhyay and Ray, the other three are Baisakhi Maji, a public health specialist; Rajsekhar Maiti, a pediatrician, and Keshab Singha Roy, a general medicine practioner who is supervising the functioning of the clinic.

The clinic is not only for patients who had been admitted to the Beleghata ID Hospital. Any person cured of Covid-19 in any hospital can come here for follow-up, one of the doctors said.

“The clinic is open between 11am and 2pm every Wednesday. We have already completed four weeks and 30-odd people cured of Covid-19 have visited the clinic,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Among the other objectives of the clinic is to find the long-term effects of Covid-19 on a person. “The clinic will help us observe if there is any long-term effect of the medicines used to treat Covid-19 patients or for administering oxygen. If any of the patients develop any side effect, we will treat that as well,” Ray said.


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