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Kolkata: The healthcare system has started showing signs of stress, what with the spiralling Covid cases and an increasing number of doctors, nurses and other workers themselves contracting the fast-spreading virus. Staring at manpower shortage, several hospitals are curtailing the number of planned surgeries, while many patients are also not willing to go in for their scheduled operations and other procedures amid covid spike.
“We have already started reducing the number of elective surgeries. Our doctors are talking to more patients, asking them to defer their surgeries unless it is an emergency and a deferral of the procedures won’t cause much harm, ”said an official at AMRI Group of Hospitals, where 42 healthcare workers are now infected with novel coronavirus at present.
During a meeting with private hospitals on Monday, senior health officials at Swasthya Bhawan had also suggested the reduction of planned surgeries now, pointing out that might help hospitals get over the temporary manpower shortage. Health officials told the hospitals that Covid care should be their priority for the next one-and-a-half months.
“Currently, about 150 healthcare workers at RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences and Narayana Superspecialty Hopital Howrah are off hospital duty as they are infected with the novel coronavirus. About 50% of them are doctors, nurses and support staff in the ward and OTs. We are planning to reduce the number of planned surgeries after assessing the situation for the next two to three days, ”said R Venkatesh regional director (east) Narayan Health.
Most hospitals are conducting several rounds of meetings to find out ways to deal with the increasing manpower shortage. “So far, our elective surgeries have not been affected. But we are continuously assessing the situation, ”said Medica Hospital chairman Alok Roy. “We are able to manage both Covid and non-Covid patient care for now, as only about 25-odd healthcare workers are infected at present. But some patients have started communicating that they would prefer their planned surgeries at a later date, after the covid situation gets better, “said Sudipta Mitra Peerless Hospital CEO.
Most of the elective surgeries being deferred at other faculties are GI and orthopedic operations. At Charnock Hospital, where close to 100 healthcare workers are under isolation, has cut down on their elective procedures. “Most of our affected healthcare workers are in home isolation. We currently have a skewed manpower. The number of surgeries here is already on the downswing, ”said Prashanta Sharma, MD at Charnock Hospital.
In the government sector, Chittaranjan Seva Sadan College of Obstetrics Gynecology and Child Health restricted its OPD and admission services after about 70% of its healthcare workers were detected with novel coronavirus. “Due to the surge in covid cases, we are expecting fewer general patients in the next few days. This should also help hospitals tide over this temporary manpower shortage, ”said a Swasthya Bhawan official.

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