With an influx of patients at the OPD of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), authorities have implemented a number of measures to contain the spread of Covid, including staggered patient visitation — only those who book appointments online or via call can meet doctors. On Friday morning, there was a rush of patients who had queued up to see a doctor, buy medicines or follow-up on existing conditions. The new measure meant that when Monu, 30, came from Rohtak in September regarding a macular scar in her eye, she could not meet the doctor. It was only after calling and booking an appointment that she finally got to meet the doctor on Friday morning. “We did not know about the new system last month, but the guards informed us. The new protocol is better as fewer people will wait in line,” she said.
However, queues were inevitable as patients and their families waited to buy medicines following their appointments. The OPD resumed around a month ago, before which patients would opt for teleconsultations.
Boards displaying signs to maintain distance were placed at various points in the hospital and barricades were put up, beyond which only patients with booking IDs could enter. D K Sharma, the medical superintendent at AIIMS, said, “Our OPD is functional only for patients who have taken prior appointments either online or via calls. So naturally, people do not line up outside the OPD like before.”
He said sanitisers are available at entry points and those who do not have masks are given it for free.
Satya Narayan came to Delhi from Madhubani in Bihar with his wife for a consultation for his one-year-old son’s condition — a hole in his heart. “We got an appointment for today via a call we made a few days ago. Since it is dangerous to operate on our son because of his age, doctors suggested we wait for some time. We will return in a few months.”
Munni Devi, 27, on the other hand, has to visit the hospital every month for breast cancer treatment. Her husband, Ram Sabha Rai, 33, said he is accustomed to the new system of booking appointments. However, he said, “Her treatment was halted for months during the lockdown. She was in a lot of pain then.”
As police made rounds of the hospital often, patients kept their masks on to avoid getting fined. However, many did not wear the masks properly. Farhan Naqvi, assignment manager posted in the Security Control Room, said only a few new patients are taken in every day. “New patients have to visit the Patient Reception Centre (PRC) and book an appointment.”
He said there is no single method to contain crowds and social distance markings have also been made inside lifts urging people to maintain distance. “A number of measures are in place,” he said.
A security guard stationed at a gate said, “We try to ensure that people wear masks. But it gets so crowded sometimes that it becomes a task.”
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