When somebody falls ill and conditions deteriorate, he or she is forced to visit medicine emergency in any hospital. With most private along with district hospitals almost shut, patients are forced to visit even hospitals declared as COVID-19 management centres.
In the absence of the health centres and hospitals, helpline numbers were issued asking people to contact in case of medical help or emergency. The Srinagar administration also set up a call centre for patients, as OPD in most of the hospitals, remained non-functional.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir last week directed resumption of non-Covid19 hospitals and health centres including private hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and diagnostic centres in the Valley.
The hospitals are required to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) while resuming the functioning.
The direction by the administration is in right context as closure of OPDs in all hospitals has led to unbearable pain to lakhs of patients of heart, lungs, cancer, TB, renal failure among others as these hospitals have become inaccessible for them.
The idea leading the closure of OPDs was perhaps embedded in the theory that one does not know who is infected among the patients coming for consultation. Similarly, patients who come for admission for treatment might be a carrier of the infection also.
It was in this context that the doctors suggest telemedicine for all type of consultancy. However, closing the OPDs for long harm new and follow-up patients.
Based on a telemedicine consultation, if patients require a physical examination, he or she should be called, argue a class of doctors who opined to have OPDs shut.
The experts say it was a complete waste of invaluable resources if all hospitals are converted for COVID-19 management.
They argue that while only 20 per cent COVID-19 patients need intensive care, why cannot schools, community centres, marriage halls be converted into quarantine homes and accommodate rest 80 per cent.
At present, many hospitals have been converted into two categories. While some hospitals have been completely converted into COVID-19 centres, others have opened a dedicated COVID-19 block. However, none of them is filled to the capacity. It is in this context that hospitals need to resume normal functions, of course with compliance to the protocols ensuring safety of staff by providing the protective gear and ensuring regular disinfecting of the all the spaces with and outside the hospital buildings.