KASARAGOD: After 15 days and 10 deaths, the Karnataka government has agreed to allow patients from Kasaragod district of Kerala to access hospitals in Mangaluru.
The access was cut off as part of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The people of Kasaragod depend on hospitals in Mangaluru as the border district of Kerala does not have a tertiary health care facility. Since the beginning of the blockade on March 24, 10 patients lost their lives after their ambulances were blocked. All the 10 persons had their houses within 10km from the border.
On Tuesday, the Karnataka government told the Supreme Court that it has struck an agreement with the Kerala government to allow the "free movement" of patients between the two states at Talapady, the inter-state border.
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But even on Tuesday, two patients from Kannur -- a 13-year-old burn patient and a 60-year-old who underwent surgery, were sent back by Karnataka police.
The permission to allow patients came late in the evening on Tuesday, and it had a long list of conditions which were as follows:
1. Only non-COVID-19 patients will be allowed.
2. Patients can seek treatment only for heart ailments, neuro disease, road accidents, post-delivery complications and ailments for which there are no treatments in Kasaragod
3. Local government medical doctor should certify that:
a) the patient is not a COVID-19 patient.
b) does not have COVID-19 symptoms or they should provide COVID negative certificate.
c) should not have international/ interstate travel history.
d) the case is a medical emergency.
e) the treatment is not available in Kasaragod and the patient cannot be taken to Kannur.
4. Patients can come only in government ambulance and it should be sanitised as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.
5. Only one attendant can accompany patients.
6. Only the ambulance driver and one paramedic allowed.
7. The patient will be checked by a medical team at Talapady to ensure the above conditions are met.
8. Patient must carry residential proof or passport or Aadhaar or voter ID
9. The COVID criteria checklist must be duly filled and attached by the Government Medical Officer only
10. All cost of personal protection equipment and isolation ICUs will be borne by the patient only.
Kasaragod steps up to the challenge
In a bid to facilitate patients seeking treatment in Mangaluru, the Kasaragod district administration said 108 Ambulances will be stationed at Talapady to take patients across the border.
One of the conditions of the Karnataka government to allow patients in was they should come in government ambulances, and the ambulances should be sanitised as per MoHFW guidelines.
Collector D Sajith Babu said four government doctors would be stationed at the border round the clock to provide certificates to patients seeking treatment in Mangaluru.
Dr Harikrishnan (9496820103) and Dr Sanuj (9496333577), assistant surgeons of Mangalpady Taluk Hospital will be at Talapady on alternate days from 8 pm to 8 am.
Dr Nisha (8592812615) will take over at 8 am and will be at the border till 2 pm; Dr Maithili (8304812407) will be on duty from 2 pm to 8 pm, said Sajith Babu in an order.
The collector issued the special order after the Karnataka government issued a long list of requirements to allow patients from Kasaragod to access hospitals in Mangaluru.