With healthcare workers across cities contracting Covid-19, hospitals have developed a roster system to protect staff and stringent protocols to allow only one attendant. They are also insisting on Covid negative reports from visitors and following intensive contact-tracing mechanisms in case an employee gets infected.
Hospitals and private diagnostic centres are facing a staff crunch as healthcare and frontline workers are getting Covid-19. The purpose of the new protocol is to ensure that at least 30-40% of the staff is on board and working at a time.
Fortis Healthcare’s group head (medical strategy and operations) Bishnu Panigrahi told ET: “Across cities, our hospitals are facing a situation when everyone – office staff, doctors, surgeons, nursing staff, lab technicians, etc – is getting infected. We have started staggering our workforce. If in a department, we have five doctors, we are putting a roster system so that at one point three report for duty for five days and the other two work from home and cover the next five days. This is being done because we do not want a situation when we have a manpower crisis.”
Hospitals are also restricting the number of visitors and attendants for patients. Max Healthcare’s group medical director Sandeep Buddhiraja told ET: “We have restricted the number of attendants with a patient to one. Visitors have been restricted. We are insisting on negative RT-PCR for attendants of patients.” Panigrahi said that Fortis hospitals in Bengaluru are insisting on a negative report from visitors. He said: “Surgeries are getting cancelled as hospital is insisting on a negative RT-PCR and when it is done, we have found that several patients are asymptomatic positive. At the same time, several surgeons are contracting the virus and procedures are getting postponed. Though the severity of the strain is less, if more people get infected, we would need to be careful or this could turn into a manpower crisis.”
Hospitals are also training doctors and other healthcare workers in Covid care. Hyderabad-based Yashoda Hospitals medical director Lingaiah Amidayala told ET: “We have not yet reported a large number of infections in our staff. But we have prepared a contingency plan. While our pulmonology and internal medicine departments are treating Covid-19 patients, we are training healthcare workers attached to all other departments in Covid care. If we face a situation where doctors fall ill, the other doctors can come to the fore. We have restricted our number of visitors and attendants with patients.”
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