Kolkata: The death of three state doctors on Thursday, including two in Kolkata, has set alarm bells ringing across city private hospitals that are bolstering their safety measures afresh for healthworkers who remain exposed to the risk of Covid transmission.
While one of them has decided to raise the frequency of a training programme for nurses launched a few weeks ago, another has decided to issue a set of guidelines for doctors asking them to strictly adhere to the PPE-wearing protocol at both Covid and non-Covid wards. Yet another has announced a Covid allowance for healthworkers employed at the Covid wards.
Twenty doctors are now under treatment for Covid at the Calcutta Medical College Hospital. That apart, several more are being treated at ID Hospital, MR Bangur Hospital and KPC Medical College, said a senior health department official.
Peerless Hospital — where as many as 182 employees have had Covid so far — has put up plastic screens at its front desk and at the entrance to its Covid clinic to check transmission. “We are in the process of identifying every possible spot where our employees — including doctors, nurses, front office personnel and housekeeping staff — are likely to come in close contact with patients and their kin. These spots will have plastic barriers that will not only act as a shield but also serve as a reminder that they need to maintain a distance,” said CEO Sudipta Mitra.
He added that the hospital has made it mandatory for all healthworkers and employees to be in PPE inside wards, irrespective of whether it is a Covid unit or a non-Covid one. “That apart, we have installed a negative pressure air flow system to ensure that cross-ventilation does not happen across the wards,” added Mitra.
AMRI Hospitals plans to intensify its training programme for nurses, many of whom have been freshly recruited following a mass exodus since September. “Doctors and nurses are being apprised of the safety norms repeatedly since this is of prime importance. Special emphasis is being given to the PPE wearing, handling and disposing methods that are crucial in checking transmission,” said CEO Rupak Barua. More than 200 healthworkers have been affected across the three AMRI units since April. Less than 10 are now infected.
Senior doctors including a gynaecologist, a neuro surgeon, an ophthalmologist and a radiologist are among the 20-odd doctors undergoing treatment at Medical College currently. Many are in the critical care units.
“Doctors always tend to get higher viral load as they are exposed to so many patients some of them might be asymptomatic carriers. That is the reason why we should not be neglecting even the slightest of symptoms, get tested on time for timely intervention,” said public health specialist Anirban Dalui.
More than 300 healthcare workers have been infected at RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) so far. “But the infection rates are similar across staff on Covid as well as non-Covid duties. This shows that these infections are largely community acquired. Yet, we continue to follow the most stringent steps to prevent infection among healthcare workers. Even though the positivity rates are reducing, the measures will remain in place,” said zonal director R Venkatesh.
ILS Hospital has introduced a Covid allowance for its healthworkers to ‘keep them financially motivated’. “That apart, we ensure that they are provided with best quality covid protection gears that are replaced on every donning and doffing,” said Debasish Dhar, group vice -president.