Shortage of support staff forces small hospitals and clinics to close down

The shutdown of facilities has left a number of patients with minor illnesses in the lurch

Published: 27th March 2020 06:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2020 06:49 AM   |  A+A-

Shoppers wait patiently outside a Supplyco supermarket at Njekkadu, near Kallambalam, in Thiruvananthapuram district maintaining a safe distance among themselves on Thursday as part of ‘social distancing’ to counter the community spread of Covid-19 | B P DEEPU

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Due to a severe shortage of support staff in the wake of the lockdown following the Covid-19 threat, the functioning of private clinics and small hospitals, mostly in rural areas of the state, have come to a halt. The shutdown of such facilities has left a number of patients with minor illnesses and non-emergency medical needs in the lurch. Though government-run primary health centres (PHCs) are open, many people hesitate to visit such facilities owing to the Covid-19 scare.

Besides, PHCs and other government healthcare facilities are already pre-occupied with monitoring the Covid-19 situation and attending to patients with such symptoms on a daily basis. “I have been suffering from a severe toothache for the past few days. The local clinic has shutdown abruptly and due to the restrictions imposed on travel, I have put off plans to visit a specialty hospital in the city for the time being. Also, it is better to stay away from hospitals now owing to the possibility of contracting the virus,” said Surendran Nair, from Amboori in rural Thiruvananthapuram.

According to Dr Sushama Anil, state secretary of the Kerala Association of Small Hospitals and Clinics (KASC), small and medium healthcare facilities, with less than 20 beds, have been severely hit by shortage of support staff. The situation has aggravated after the lockdown was declared. A majority of the 2,000 small hospitals and clinics affiliated to the association had wound up operation a week ago.

“Till recently, many doctors who run small clinics have been functioning like a one-man army doing the role of the support staff as well. However, there is a severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment which has forced many doctors to close down clinics,” she said. According to Dr Sushama, the state government has not issued any communication to small hospitals or clinics regarding their functioning. The Indian Medical Association (IMA), on the other hand, has left the decision on the doctors who run such clinics, with firm insistence on adopting sufficient protective measures while attending to patients.


Large hospitals are seeing a huge drop in the number of out-patients. Even patients admitted for elective surgeries have sought voluntary discharge in the wake of Covid-19 scare. “The drop in the number of patients can be attributed to the overall scare prevailing in the wake of the coronavirus situation. Also, the government had advised people to postpone non-emergency surgeries and visits to hospitals for the time being,” said Sheba Jacob, joint secretary, Kerala Private Hospital Association. Meanwhile, the managements of largescale private hospitals said they have extended all cooperation to the government to utilise their facilities to handle a possible spike in Covid-19 cases in the coming days.

Corona Care Centres

IMG Hostel: 66 people quarantined
Sameti: 20 people
University Men’s Hostel: 31
Women’s Hostel: 44
Manvila Cooperative Training Institute: 17

2,234 held for violating lockdown norms

T’PURAM: Continuing its crackdown on people who flout lockdown guidelines, the police on Thursday registered 2,098 cases and arrested 2,234 people across the state, taking the total number of arrests to 5,710. Most number of cases were registered in Idukki (245), while Thiruvananthapuram followed with 233 cases. Wayanad has the least number of cases (31). The stringent police action on the first two days had resulted in reduced vehicular movement. Continuing with the trend, the police heightened its vigil and took action against the people who hit the roads without valid reasons. As many as 1,447 vehicles were seized across the state in this regard.

1,567 more placed under observation

T’PURAM: As many as 1,567 new patients were put under observation on Thursday. There are 29 people under isolation in the General Hospital, 55 in the Medical College Hospital, five in the Peroorkada District Model Hospital, four in Neyyattinkara District Hospital, nine in Nedumangad District Hospital, eight in SAT Hospital and four in KIMS Hospital. A total of 114 people are under hospital isolation. On Thursday, 34 people were newly admitted in hospital and 14 were discharged. The 99 test results received on Thursday are negative. On Thursday, 183 samples were sent. Results of 240 samples are awaited.

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