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Attendants, visitors seen in large numbers in Covid wards of Chennai hospitals

Govt had earlier issued an order forbidding visitors, attendants inside Covid isolation wards

Published: 18th May 2021 05:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2021 05:45 AM   |  A+A-

Hospitals in Chennai are overflowing with rising Covid cases. A scene outside the Covid ward at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital in Chennai on Tuesday | Debadatta Mallick

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Paying no heed to government’s instructions, government hospitals in the city have been insisting attendants of Covid patients to stay and help them inside the Covid wards. The hospitals attribute this mainly to staff shortage.

“Sometimes, the attendants also keep requesting us to stay inside the ward,” the staff said.

Citing the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine DR TS Selvavinayagam on Saturday issued an order stating that visitors and attendants are not allowed to meet Covid patients inside isolation wards as they might become super spreaders. However, the situation at hospitals shows no sign of improving.

Explaining the situation at Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, Sangeetha Isvaran, a city resident who went to the facility to admit a patient on Sunday, said, “There were a lot of beds there and most patients had an attendant sitting beside them. In my brief time inside the ward, I saw at least 10 to 15 attendants walking in and out of ward.”

Even worse, Sangeetha says that the hospital was admitting patients only if an attendant was present with them. “I volunteered to admit a 93-year-old woman since her family was abroad. Inside the ward, a few attendants told me they have been staying in the ward for quite a while,” she added.

Responding to the allegations, Kasturba Gandhi Hospital director Dr S Kalaivani said, “The patients in the general ward have been redirected here from Omandurar multi-specialtyhospital. Since they have been running short of beds, they use 70 beds here and are responsible for the patients. Doctors also from Omandurar hospital come here to treat them. We have an acute staff shortage here.”

Asked about allowing attendants in Covid maternity wards, she said, “In the maternity ward, we allow attendants since they have to take care of the babies and help with breast feeding. In the general Covid ward, attenders are allowed for very sick people.”

Similar is the case with other government hospitals in the city. For 50-year-old Rajesh, who suffers from asthma, there was no option but to stay with his ill mom in the Covid ward. “A lot of family members who have co-morbidities like me, have been staying in the ward. We help them get food and assist them to washroom,” he said.

A senior official from the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital said a few patients have been insisting on having attendants with them. “We have been restricting the entry of attendants as much as possible,” he said. Notably, some attendants even return homes to meet family and get food, during stay at hospitals. Omandurar Medical College Dean R Jayanthi said, “We issue Covid ward passes to attendants only for an hour. We also provide them PPE kits. However, some people violate the norms and stay for longer hours.”

‘10 to 15 in a ward’
Explaining the situation at Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, Sangeetha Isvaran, a city resident who went to the facility to admit a patient on Sunday, said, “There were a lot of beds there and most patients had an attendant sitting beside them. I saw at least 10 to 15 people walking in and out of the ward.”



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