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Pvt hosps turn away patients to protect staff from infection

As the spike in COVID19 cases continues in Chennai, a large number of private hospitals in the city are denying medical services to the patients due to the fear of infecting the medical staff.

Pvt hosps turn away patients to protect staff from infection


While patients are scared to approach government hospitals in case of emergency due to heavy load of COVID-19 cases, private hospitals have left them in a dilemma.

B Ganesh (68), a resident of Chintadripet, was suffering from calcium deficiency and irregular blood sugar levels for more than two years and required continuous monitoring as he developed urinary tract infection recently. However, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the State started increasing, the regular check-up became difficult for Ganesh. Around three private hospitals in the city denied admission for Ganesh as he developed complications in past one month.

In another instance, a private hospital in Madipakkam denied an emergency surgery to a four-yearold child, who suffered an injury in the wrist. “We have only 10 per cent staff members on duty as non-emergency cases are not being attended and measures are being taken to avoid the risk of infection,” said a hospital staff. With government hospitals in the city receiving a large number of COVID-19 cases on a daily basis, patients prefer to go to private hospitals for treatment.

“Several medical staff have been tested positive for COVID-19. We cannot risk the lives of the

doctors and nurses. However, we are providing emergency medical services,” said a spokesperson from a private hospital in Chrompet.

Majority of eye hospitals and dental hospitals in the city are seeing only emergency cases and many

patients with undiagnosed eye and dental disorders are waiting for the lockdown to be lifted. While multi-speciality hospitals across the city are taking measures such as disinfecting the patients and the hospital premises, smaller hospitals are finding it difficult to continue the medical services.

 Besides the absence of work, the 40-plus day lockdown had been as normal as possible for A Martin, a cinematographer from Porur, until early this week when his son Donnery (15) complained of severe stomach pain.

“He complained around 4.30 pm and we immediately took him to a clinic nearby, where the doctor said it could be just food poisoning and gave him medication,” Martin said. The father and son returned home and the boy was given the medicine.

But Donnery’s stomach pain only got worse through the night and by around 5 am next morning, it was unbearable. “I took him immediately to a big hospital in Vadapalani as I knew something was wrong. The child could not even sit straight,” Martin told DT Next.

To his surprise, the casualty staff at the private hospital checked Donnery’s temperature and since he had a mild fever. They referred the child to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital without any investigation.

“I was quite shocked. My son was suffering from immense pain but they told me that he had a fever and should go to the GH. I did not know what to do as I knew for sure that the fever was due to stomach pain and nothing else. So, we returned home and decided to wait a little longer,” Martin said.

By that evening, the stomach pain got so unbearable that Martin had no choice but get the boy admitted somewhere. From his friends, he heard that most private hospitals refused to entertain patients and asked him to check through some known contacts to get his son treated at a private hospital.

“A distant relative of mine works at a private hospital in Palavakkam and we rushed him there. They admitted him and did CTScan and found that my son had appendicitis and that it had already

burst,” Martin said.

While the hospital staff and Martin knew it was an emergency, the hospital wanted to wait for at least a day to do the surgery. “I suspect they did not have adequate doctors,” he said. Fortunately, another friend of Martin arranged for his son’s admission at a hospital near Porur where he was immediately operated on. The 15-year-old recovered fully and was discharged on Friday.

“I had some friends who could get my son admitted in a hospital. Otherwise, I can’t imagine the situation. This is the plight of most people who fall sick or suffer an injury these days,” Martin recounted.

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