Governments around the world are focusing on the care of Covid pandemic patients, however, there is also an urgent need to continue providing healthcare services to the Non-Covid illness especially emergency care such as Intervention in Acute Coronary Syndrome, Acute appendicitis, management of full-term pregnancy patients going into labor pains, patient in renal failure needing urgent hemodialysis. This list is only illustrative and not exhaustive.
In India, in an attempt to limit the virus spread, overcautious local health authorities may have shut down many hospitals. This has shaken public faith in the healthcare system. Authorities must avoid shutting down hospitals with infected staff for prolonged periods, because each bed and healthcare worker is an essential resource in India’s battle against the pandemic and also for providing care to Non-Covid illness especially during emergency care.
Simplifying care protocols is essential for reducing the risk of infection
Protecting vulnerable healthcare workers from infection should be the foremost priority. A comprehensive staff evaluation must be undertaken and healthcare workers over the age of 65 and with co-morbidities must be asked to work from home or take up administrative responsibilities for the duration of the pandemic. Keeping at least 30 per cent workforce away from the hospital can provide a back-up for infected staff.
As consultations and planned procedures are on hold in hospitals all over the country, the implementation of this measure shouldn’t be challenging. Similarly, a strategy to lock up and conserve non-essential floors can help build a ‘hospital back-up’ while infected areas are being sanitized after a diagnosed contamination.
Besides manpower training and sensitization, hospitals will need investments to deliver consistently safe outcomes, even for Non-Covid patients. These include
the construction of assessment zones,
Dedicated patient lift,
conversion of positive pressure operation rooms into negative pressure ones,
and particle arresters for surgeries to protect surgical teams and to prevent cross-infection of future patients.
A financial package for private health care providers combined with massive investment in public healthcare should be high on the Government’s agenda.
To conclude, there is a need to have a user friendly policy for Non-Covid emergency healthcare needs of patients during the Covid pandemic.