Demand to equip peripheral govt. hospitals for COVID treatment

Non-COVID patients will be affected by turning MCH into ‘sole point of definitive care’

A section of doctors is apprehensive that non-COVID patients will be affected by the ongoing efforts to turn the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, to what they termed as the “sole point of definitive care” for those infected by the virus. They are also worried that the existing system to mainly utilise the services of house surgeons and resident doctors for the treatment will be effective on a long-term basis.

According to sources, all the main wards in the general medicine department are slowly turning into COVID-only facilities right now. The newly constructed block under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) too will be utilised for the treatment as more cases are being reported. Some doctors at the MCH told The Hindu that this was likely to affect the treatment of non-COVID patients.

They claimed that a majority of the other government hospitals in the district were ill-equipped to provide even basic oxygen care and support to the patients even a year after the pandemic struck.

“We have such a huge resource of medical professionals in peripheral government hospitals. They should be empowered to provide basic medical care, including oxygen support, to the patients. People with other serious illnesses, who require only palliative treatment and not aggressive treatment, could be admitted there. Now, all such patients are referred to the MCH,” one of the doctors said. The plan to open up the PMSSY block for COVID care has also been criticised as there are no more nursing or para medical staff left to provide services there.

The district administration, however, is planning to have at least 15% beds at the district hospital, taluk hospitals and other important healthcare institutions for COVID treatment alone. Oxygen cylinders too will be kept ready there.

A total of 25% of beds and intensive care units in private hospitals too have been told to be kept aside for the purpose. But, some doctors said that even a slight change in the condition of the patients would suffice for the other government hospitals to refer them to the MCH.

Only decentralisation of treatment would help, they claimed. Meanwhile, utilising resident doctors and house surgeons for treatment and services has also not gone down well with the medical fraternity.

It has been claimed that the training of the young doctors would be hampered by this.

According to sources, a full batch of over 200 intern doctors is ending their services on Tuesday and the administration has extended their tenure for another three months or till a new batch takes over.

The next batch of medicos are yet to finish their final exams. Their joining duty will be delayed by at least another two to three months, it is learnt.

A senior doctor pointed out that a definite long-term plan should be made to properly utilise peripheral government hospitals for COVID care instead of using only non-clinical and teaching doctors or residents at medical colleges.

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