COVID-19: Patient surge in hospitals poses fresh challenge for Kerala government

Demands are coming in from various quarters to implement full-fledged telemedicine and to fix a doctor-to-patient ratio across state.

Published: 21st May 2020 06:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st May 2020 01:36 PM   |  A+A-

Corporation staff engaged in cleaning the floor of Mofussil bus stand in Kozhikode as the private bus service will resume soon. (Photo | Manu R Mavelil/EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After a lull, hospitals in the state are witnessing crowded corridors again. The rush at hospitals is turning out to be a new challenge for the health department amid apprehensions of coronavirus transmission happening within hospitals.

With norms like social distancing being difficult to practise in letter and spirit at these points, demands are coming in from various quarters to implement full-fledged telemedicine and to fix a doctor-to-patient ratio. The number of people visiting hospitals has risen due to infections, mainly fever and dengue, triggered by pre-monsoon showers. 

“The inflow of patients is a challenge and it makes hospitals a potential hotbed of transmission,” a health department official told TNIE. 

“Though some people pay heed to instructions like wearing facemasks and practising social distancing, others ignore the same. This puts health workers and other hospital staff at risk.” 

Among the cases in hospitals, vector-borne diseases like fever, dengue and chikungunya are reported to have symptoms which are very similar to those of Covid-19. This makes attending to out-patients a risky affair.

The health official cited the first Pathanamthitta COVID case as a reminder.

“Two persons there went to a primary health centre with fever. That they came into contact with a positive person was revealed only after an inquiry. Similar incidents happened at various places. Thus the transmission of infection in hospital settings is a threat which will have to be dealt with in all seriousness,” the official said. 

Echoing similar sentiments, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday urged the health department to step-in to address crowding at hospitals.

KGMOA responds with a slew of suggestions Meanwhile, to plug the potential route for the nosocomial spread of Covid-19, the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association is planning to submit a slew of suggestions to the government.

This includes fixing the doctor-to-patient ratio at 1:50, augmenting telemedicine, chalking out an institution-based plan for dealing with cases according to its strengths and weaknesses, strengthening the workforce and introducing staggered working, among others.

Earlier, a study published by the Journal of Hospital Infection had pointed out that social mingling represents a potential route for the spread of infection at hospitals because patients outside the isolation ward may not be subject to movement restrictions and share common facilities.

Experts also point out that, while social distancing is crucial for containment, the practice of the same within hospitals is equally vital in reducing nosocomial spread.

Especially so in hospitals where the majority of patients are nursed in multi-bedded cohort rooms, rather than single-occupancy rooms.

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