THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the country contemplating lifting lockdown measures, it could present a tricky situation. Once the interstate borders are opened, the dynamics of handling the pandemic will change swiftly. Kerala, which has so far dealt with the outbreak in an exemplary manner, is now exploring ways to tackle the emerging situation by scaling up the strength of its health force and other facilities. Speaking to TNIE, a senior officer with the health department said, “We are planning to avail the services of private hospital staff in the state once the lockdown is lifted. Also, the department has reached out to retired health workers, including doctors, to make use of their service”.
At present, medical workers in the state have been divided into four categories -- tier one, tier two, tier three and reserve pool. Officials listed in tier one, for about two weeks, are the frontline warriors against Covid. After two weeks, the health officials in tier one are placed under quarantine within the hospital premises itself, which is tier two. Following which, officials listed in tier three of general duty are moved up to tier one. Once the tier two officials complete their quarantine, they are moved to tier three to replace the current tier one officials. This rotation-based shift happens every two weeks. Meanwhile, a reserve pool is maintained so that shortage never occurs.Besides, the health department has chalked out a plan to scale up infrastructure by including private hospitals with ICU and ventilator facilities in each district and staff from select private hospitals. This particular workforce will come into effect after 50 per cent of the beds in Plan B are occupied (currently, the situation of the state is still under Plan A).
Retired hands with wealth of experience
“Once interstate borders reopen, the state will require more hands. Hence, the state has also sought the support of retired health officials. However, the department has limitations when it comes to depending on retired officials as majority of them are elderly and it cannot risk exposing them to the vagaries of the virus. “But, we will have to keep them as standby for incidents of acute shortage or emergencies. A section of them have already expressed their willingness,” said a senior officer.