BMC’s smartphone initiative has positive impact on COVID-19 patients
BL Soni

BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) idea of distributing smartphones at jumbo centres and major hospitals for the better recovery of COVID-19 patients has yielded good results. So far, more than 10,000 patients showed a good response in their health after being in constant touch with their family through smartphones. Civic officials said that they have observed faster recovery among patients who daily spoke to their family members.

Due to the contagious nature of Sars-CoV-2 –the virus that causes COVID-19 – patients are being kept in isolation wards, where their family members are not allowed to visit, leaving patients to remain alone for days till the end of their treatment.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, said COVID-19 patients often go into depression while undergoing treatment in isolation wards, following which they had purchased 200 smartphones for them. “We have observed in our civic-run hospitals that patients who talk to their relatives daily have a better recovery rate. Though this is not scientifically proven, we believe that it may help in the early recovery of patients. This may also help in curbing the mortality rate,” he said.

Psychiatrists have welcomed the move and believe it might help in improving the mental health condition of patients. “Patients, irrespective of their age or gender, get scared when they get detected with COVID-19. In such a situation, when they stay alone for days, it leads to depression and anxiety. Many patients experience the same sadness even after they get discharged. But if they talk to their family daily, it contributes to their faster recovery,” said Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist.

Moreover, COVID-19 patients who are suffering from mental stress due to the pandemic are being counselled at the jumbo centres through smartphones. “Mental stress has taken a toll on COVID-19 patients. Since last week, we have started online counselling with the help of volunteer counsellors or psychiatrists. Moreover, each patient is counselled for 45 minutes. We have also provided smartphones to patients in the ICU so that they can talk to their family members to overcome stress,” said Dr Neelam Andhrade, in-charge of NESCO COVID-19 Centre.

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