This Diwali, which comes more than six months after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, is not for festivities and fun, at least for doctors, health workers, officials and administration staff of various civic bodies in the state. For them, it will be extended working hours, more workload and cancelled holidays.
After several doctors succumbed to Covid-19 and over 500 infected while on duty, the 11-year-old Doctor-on-Call service would see heavy work load of Covid patients as well as burn cases, during Diwali. Though the service that was available 24×7 was cut short to limited hours from 7 am to 10 pm, Diwali holidays of doctors who are on Covid duty had to be cancelled.
“Between 500-1,000 doctors were infected with coronavirus and at least eight of them got re-infected. Doctors have been working round-the-clock since March, reaching a level of fatigue and exhaustion,” president of Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA), Dr Kirit Gadhavi, said.
“Usually burn cases are high during Diwali but this year we are expecting more calls for Covid-related symptoms along with respiratory and cardiac troubles,” Gadhavi added.
The service is an initiative by Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA) in association with Ahmedabad Family Physicians Association (AFPA) and support from other associations.
“Various illnesses such as swine flu, chikungunya, malaria and dengue are at its peak and the Covid pandemic has been going on for more than six months. We are struggling for investigation and treatment as ICU facilities in hospitals are all occupied… AMA has given list of vacant beds in private hospital on its website. We will also provide assistance to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) at different areas through telephonic advice,” Dr Dhiren Mehta, AMA secretary, said.
Most member hospitals and nursing homes of the Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA) has decided to remain open during Diwali. “Considering the the surge in Covid cases, to assist the citizens of Ahmedabad during Diwali, Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association will put a list of all the member healthcare facilities working during the Diwali week beginning November 14 on the website http://www.ahna.org.in till November 21,” AHNA president Dr Bharat Gadhavi said. A 24-hour helplines — 079-26403333 and 079-26409999 — will also give details about the Covid bed availability in the designated hospitals.
The AMC has decided to cancel Diwali leaves of its staff. Speaking at the standing committee press briefing on Thursday, committee chairperson, Amul Bhatt, said, “In three hospitals run by the civic body — Shardaben General Hospital, LG Hospital and VS Hospital, doctors in the burns department will be available round-the-clock…. Officials at the corporation will also be available.” As per a member of the AMC executive wing, departmental circulars have been sent to this effect.
In Vadodara, doctors at the GMERS-run Gotri Medical College will work on Diwali this year as their 15-day annual Diwali leave has been cancelled. Over 140 consulting doctors and 80 resident doctors will be on duty at the hospital, which has seen around 6,000 Covid cases since March. At present, 110 Covid patients are admitted here. According to the MBBS Students Association members in Ahmedabad, undergraduate students deployed as ‘Covid-19 assistants’ were granted Diwali vacation as usual.
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