SUSPENDED since March 20, PGIMER resumed physical OPDs in a limited manner on Monday, with more than 553 patients, both old and new examined and consulted physically by doctors at the OPDs of the departments of general surgery, internal medicine, paediatric medicine, dental APC, nephrology, physiotherapy and others.
As many as 1,206 patients were given tele-consultation. The Institute has been preparing to resume physical OPDs since May, with many details, in terms of new infrastructure development, screening procedures, crowd control, social distancing protocols etc developed steadily over the few months.
The multi-level parking, which has ample space, air and light, is the new holding area for patients, with chairs placed at a distance, and patients requiring to be seated with one chair empty in between. There is clear signage guiding patients to the reception, different OPDs, waiting areas, washrooms, with security personnel making frequent announcements to ensure that people to sit and stand at a distance.
One entry for patients ensures that each person’s temperature is taken and not more than ten people are allowed to enter the specific OPD area. “Before Covid-19, we had close to 10,000 people coming to the Institute for OPD services.
But now, we cannot afford to have such a large number of people, for PGI can become a hotspot if we don’t take precautions and have strict security measures in place to prevent a second surge, which the world is now facing,” explained Dr Navin Pandey, In Charge, OPD, Department of Hospital Administrations PGIMER.
According to Dr Pandey, the new system, which required a lot of effort and planning, banks heavily on tele-consultation services, which is the way for the future, as it will ease the pressure on patients and the Institute and will lead to a more streamlined system– one that would ensure crowd control.
On Monday, those who had booked appointments through tele-consultation were physically examined by doctors, and those who came without prior appointments, were guided to the receptions, where they were explained how to register for tele-consultation, to be made from 8 am to 9.30 am.
The Department of Community Medicine has set up the screening area, and each patient, with one attendant is first screened via an interview, and if a need is felt, those who are screened positive have to go through a Rapid Antigen Test. If the result is negative, they are allowed to go to the respective OPDs, with a green mark on the card denoting negative and red as positive.
The patients evaluated through tele-consultation and requiring physical examination will be called to PGIMER by an appointment system, with the date of appointment noted on the tele-consultation OPD cards of the patients to be called in physically.
The appointments as per recommendations of the department are given in hourly slots and intimation is sent to the patient through an SMS.
“There are so many patients who wait for hours and travel long distances to get their reports evaluated and their prescription renewed. We noticed that this was done smoothly through tele-consultation and only those patients, who require to be physically examined by a doctor, for a diagnosis and a further treatment plan, will be called to the Institute. I believe it is a win-win situation for all. Yes, people will take time to get used to the new system, but this is how it is going to be now, for we cannot go back to the old way. In the hourly slots, we will be easily able to cater to 10 to 20 patients. And when we have our staff which is right now busy with Covid-19 work, the number will increase substantially. Soon, we will have an online system for appointments. The number of patients per OPD is restricted to 50,” added Dr Pandey.
While hourly sanitation of different areas is the protocol, every area has boxes with masks and hand sanitisers, with the PPE Committee of the Institute providing suitable PPE to various cadres of healthcare workers in the OPDs for the second phase.
Doctors’ tables have glass shields to ensure a safe distance, with the first day witnessing people waiting patiently, with the staff guiding them at each step. “We hope to continue with this system and in the coming week, we will be able to make changes as required, so that there is crowd control, proper screening is ensured and there is no exposure to the virus. The pandemic has taught us how lucky we are to be alive, healthy and now is the time to be extra careful,” summed up Dr Pandey.
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