STATES

Non-Covid care the casualty again in Kerala as attention shifts to new wave

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Non-Covid care which was severely compromised during the second wave is likely to be hit again as the hospitals have started focusing on the pandemic.

The rise in the number of Covid patients has already started adversely affecting treatment of other patients at the peripheral-level health centres.

It is happening at a time when the government hospitals have resumed their regular functions including elective surgeries.

According to health experts, the situation is going to be worse for other patients as more Covid cases are expected in the coming weeks.

Already, there is a huge backlog of patients requiring follow-up treatment.

The state reported over 9,000 new Covid cases and close to 45,000 active patients on Tuesday.

The number of active patients more than doubled in 10 days.

The number of patients admitted in field hospitals increased by 30% on January 4-10 compared to the previous week.

According to health experts, the total active patients are expected to cross 20 lakh during the peak of the third wave, stretching the health system.

“Non-Covid care in general hospitals has started getting affected as the Covid caseload has increased. The hospitals in the periphery will soon get affected badly,” said member of the Kerala State Medical Council and Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) president Dr G S Vijayakrishnan.

The staff pattern in hospitals has remained the same as in the first two waves.

Instead of increasing the manpower, the health department has adopted a need-based approach. 

The staff at the peripheral health centres were deployed at Covid treatment centres earlier at the cost of non-Covid care.

“The past experiences show that resource mobilisation can be done on the basis of the need. But there should be serious thoughts on additional resources in the form of doctors and paramedical staff. It is always better to keep the resources ready,” said Vijayakrishnan.

The medical college hospitals (MCHs) which treat some of the severely ill Covid patients in the state are also likely to see their capacity being stretched in the third wave. The health experts have advised a prudent approach to minimise the impact this time.

“Most of the patients will be treated at the periphery as their infection will be mild. However, even a small proportion of the severely ill of the total number of patients is going to be a huge number. If patients who are only mildly ill panic and obtain unnecessary referrals to the MCHs, then the system will collapse,” said Dr S S Santhoshkumar, deputy superintendent, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.

The Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association has suggested that only cases that require multidisciplinary and critical care must be treated in MCHs. 

They also demanded strengthening peripheral hospitals, home care and telemedicine support and using ICUs in district hospitals with online support from MCHs.

The new cases increased by 100% and active patients increased by 45% in January 4-10 compared to the previous week. The number of patients admitted in hospitals and field hospitals has increased by 2% and 30%, respectively, during the period

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