House surgeons at MCH on warpath

They demand admission of non-COVID patients

It is a catch-22 situation for the authorities of the Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Ernakulam, with house surgeons on the path of agitation demanding immediate resumption of inpatient (IP) admission of non-COVID patients, so that they are able to have clinical training as part of their academic requirements.

The hospital, saddled with a major share of COVID-19 patients for the last 11 months, has its 40 ICU beds fully occupied, and unless an alternative arrangement is made, opening of IP could be troublesome, said Dr. V. Satheesh, Principal, MCH .

The 73 house surgeons had a turbulent year, rues Siby Manuel Jose, a house surgeon. “While we performed duty at the COVID triage for the first four-and-a-half months, for clinical postings, students were divided into three batches and allocated to Kottayam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam Medical Colleges on rotation. That got over by December 31. And, it was agreed that OP and IP would be opened since January beginning. But while the outpatient wing began to function in a limited manner, IP was shut a day after it was opened,” he said.

While the students feel that the burn ICU and the cath facility could be used tentatively as non-COVID ICU. They also argued that it was possible to shift low-category COVID-19 patients to an adjacent block for admission of non-COVID patients in wards.

“It is possible to ensure there is segregation of patients in the two categories,” said Mr. Jose.

But the principal said it may not be possible. “However, we held a meeting with the District Collector on Monday and requested him to make alternative ICU arrangements. That is being done at the district hospital in Aluva. But it takes a fortnight to a month’s time. In the meantime, we have a schedule to restore all non-COVID operations in a phased manner,” he added.

While the hospital has reopened medical, surgery and orthopaedic OPs, primarily to give clinical exposure to the house surgeons, its continuing pivotal role in the COVID-19 fight in the district is throwing the spanner in its academic role, said senior doctors.

“We have to apportion a chunk of our staff to the COVID facility. But it is an educational institution, and we have resumed classes for the final years students too,” said a doctor.

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