Kasturba Gandhi Hospital med staff seek more protection

Mumbai: Nurses and staffers at civic-run Kasturba Gandhi Hospital who are taking care of suspected coronavirus patients have demanded the hospital administration to provide them with respirator- N95 which is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for better precaution.

This comes after the staffers feared of getting infected in the isolation ward as they have been given a single-layered surgical mask which cannot stop the infiltration of the virus.

“We are working 24/7 in a very close proximity with the isolation and we are aware of virus being spread through air so there is a chances of getting infected. But the hospital administration has given surgical mask instead of N95 mask which can protect us,” said one of the nurses working around the isolation ward at the hospital.

Dr Om Srivastava, infectious disease experts said respirator- N95 is required when doctors or staffers are in direct touch with the suspected or confirmed patients. “Surgical masks are loose and fails to block tiny particles in air so, we recommend N95 for staffers who are working inside the isolation. It is not required to wear a respirator when outside the isolation and not in direct touch with patients,” said Dr Om Srivastava, epidemiologist.

Meanwhile, for the last 15 days the chemists across state are facing huge shortage of N95 mask due to which the Retail and Dispensing Chemist Association has instructed manufacturers to increase the production of masks.

“Citizens are not able to understand that normal cold and fever can not lead to any virus due to which they are asking for masks. But this panic has led to shortage of masks result which the manufacturers are not able to meet such a sudden rise in demands as they do not have enough raw material,” said Prasad Danave, president of association.

Experts to review isolation wards at private hospitals

The Public Health Department is likely to form an expert committee who will review the private hospitals that are willing to admit travellers with suspected coronavirus. This decision comes after the state health department issued a letter to the private hospitals instructing them to prepare their isolation ward for admitting the patients if needed.

Dr Archana Patil, director of state health department, said the union government has constituted some parameters for maintaining the isolation wards in the hospitals where the suspected coronavirus cases will be kept. “We have instructed the civic body to form an experts committee working at government-run hospitals and medical colleges. This group of officials will inspect the isolation rooms and give approval to hospitals,” she said.

As many private hospitals already have isolation wards, they are still awaiting a response from the state government, without which, they cannot admit patients. “Currently five patients including one foreign national has been admitted to the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital. But if the rule gets implemented, the BMC would have enlisted names of approved private hospitals for reference,” Dr Patil added.

Earlier, BMC along with state health officials held a meeting with several representatives of private hospitals to discuss guidelines about the coronavirus. But many hospitals in the city with super-specialty isolation wards are yet to be informed by the health authority about the required guidelines of the central health department.

“Health officers from the state health department and BMC held a meeting with the representatives of private hospitals. We were sensitised about the requirements but nothing has been given on record, without which we can’t make any changes or developments. All the instructions need to be provided on paper, rather than through verbal communications,” said an official.

Dr Ramesh Bharmal, medical director of civic-run hospitals said that as per the rules of the central government, a patient cannot directly approach private hospitals as the state government and BMC are responsible of sending samples to NIV and keeping them under observation for almost 28 days. “The requirements to send patients to private hospitals would be taken only if we run out of isolation beds in case of out break of coronavirus,” he added.

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