COVID-19 scenario has made it necessary for people to remain indoors and limit human contact as much as possible because of the risks they pose. Health-care is one of the few sectors that needs to be prepared to provide solutions to people even at this time of crisis.
For more than six decades Rao Hospital has proven to be the leader in Women & Children’s health services in Coimbatore. Envisioning that smart & swift preparation leads to safer results, the hospital’s Management and core team identified the challenges in treating patients during this riskier times and implemented solutions that have shielded everyone visiting the hospital to be safe.
The Covai Mail sat with Dr. Damodar Rao, Associate Director and Senior Consultant, IVF and Laparoscopy at Rao Hospital to get to know about the solutions and strategies they deployed to help patients during COVID-19 period.
Assessing the Challenges
Travelling at this point of time for pregnant women is not safe. Pregnant patients and those who have opted IVF need to visit the hospital periodically. Keeping patients’ safety in mind, their visit to the hospital for regular consultation had to be postponed. This deferral may psychologically affect their minds.
Dr.Damodar Rao said “We have called our patients and counseled them explaining that there is nothing to worry and this postponement is temporary. We assured them that their IVF cycles would resume soon, and this month we have also started the pre-work up for IVF. Only for those who are mid-way on the cycles, we collected their embryos and have frozen them. On pediatric side as well, we advised patients that there is no need for vaccinations immediately”
“Since the medical community has not yet wholly ascertained the effect of the virus on the embryos and pregnancy, our governing body advised us not to do IVF or IUI cycles”.
Rolling out the Solutions
The doctors at Rao Hospital prioritized patients based on their health status (triage) – those who had to be treated on an urgent basis, those who don’t need urgent medical attention and finally those with elective procedure whose appointments can be postponed. Regular health checkups were postponed and only emergency cases were attended.
“We did tele and video consultation with the patients. We had advised them to not travel much, do blood test and take scan nearby instead of coming here from their residences. The Government’s decision to allow prescription via telephone/video came in handy and that empowered us to help the patients.”
But if patients are in a stage where they have to visit the hospital, only after proper screening they are admitted inside. The hospital’s screening protocol begins right from the phone call.
Dr. Damodar Rao said the hospital enquires the patients about their location, travel history, zones from which they are travelling and have they come in contact with any covid-19 positive patient recently. After assessing all these, it is decided whether the patient could come or wait. “If we find patients to be at risk, we ask them to self-quarantine for 2 weeks. If they develop any symptoms, we advise them to visit Government nominated COVID Hospitals.”
Inside the hospital proper social distancing norms are followed in every aspect from seating to movement. Not more than 4 people can stand in a place and only 1 attender is allowed per patient in the out-patient department. No visitors are allowed in the in-patient department.
When a patient clears all the enquiries over phone and visits the hospital after making appointment, the screening desk personnel at the entrance again asks all questions that were asked over phone. Suspicious patients will be taken to an emergency room that remains separated from other wards or rooms. They will be examined by a dedicated doctor wearing PPE. On further suspicion, he/she will be taken to the isolation ward. That way it is assured that this patient does not come in contact with others.
In case an asymptomatic patient enters and it is later identified, to provide continuous care for patients the whole doctors and staff strength is divided into two teams. One team works for a week and the other returns to take over. So even if one team unfortunately gets quarantined, the hospital will have another team to look after patients.
Ensuring safety for emergency cases
However attention for pregnant women who need immediate care cannot be delayed. The hospital schedules such patients’ appointment. When the doctor and the staff are ready to look at the patient, they are asked to come in or else they are advised to remain seated in their car or vehicle in which they arrived. This is done to minimize the exposure with others.
“If a patient has to undergo some sort of surgical procedure or admission, we make them undergo COVID-Test. So that all patients admitted earlier will know that the newly admitted patient is COVID-negative.” Doctors wear PPE when they have to move close with patients. Complete PPE is used by the surgeon and everyone in the operation theater.
Importance of Technology & Time
Dr.Damodar Rao added that the healthcare sector needs to rely on technology a lot following this pandemic. He said it is going to help them in overcoming this barrier. He also shared his opinion that both doctors and patients will learn to respect each other’s time. Doctors will have to make sure that patients are seen at the right time. Patients on the other hand should ensure that they come at the scheduled time. He felt sure that technology is going to be the game changer in healthcare.