Sheela (25) and her mother Sushila (55) heaved a sigh of relief as they came out of the room designated for video conferences at Lok Nayak Hospital. “I saw my father after eight days. He has a phone but has been too weak to talk. We waited in line for the video call all day, but it was worth it,” said Sheela.
While her father, Mahavir (58), couldn’t talk, he gestured that he was fine. “He was on oxygen support and could not speak clearly but he signalled to us that he was alright,” she said. Sushila added, “We came here on Saturday but could not speak to him.
An auto driver, Mahavir developed a fever and breathlessness 12 days ago. After being admitted to Deen Dayal Hospital for three days, he tested positive and was shifted to Lok Nayak, said the family.
The video conferencing facility was inaugurated at the government hospital by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal last Thursday. Around 33 tablets have been placed inside the wards and at a counter outside as well, for use by patients and relatives. The facility is available from 9 am to 5 pm every day.
Lok Nayak medical director Dr Suresh Kumar said, “We have started to facilitate video calls between patients and families because not all patients have phones. Even if they do, they do not have charge. Families can now get to know if the patient is given proper treatment, if they are getting food and doing okay. This leaves them satisfied.”
On Monday, the waiting room next to the Covid help desk was filled with relatives. Enquiries were made at the help desk, after which relatives were sent to the waiting room. Once a person has given their details, they are put on a list. A hospital official connects the family to the patient using a tablet. Officials said 100-120 people speak to patients every day. “It takes around half an hour. Sometimes, families have to wait longer because the patient might be undergoing treatment,” said an official.
Umesh Sen (33) said he was lucky as he got to talk to his wife at 10.30 am. “But I saw her only for a few minutes after around 15 days… there were many people around,” he said.
His wife, Mamta Sen (32), had gone to visit her parents for a family event 16 days ago when she developed chest pain. “She was unwell so she did not return to our home in Noida. Our children are waiting for her to come home. She was admitted to Lok Nayak on Sunday.”
In the video call that lasted two minutes, Mamta told her husband not to worry. “However, she has lost her appetite and I know she is not eating much,” he said.
Families have the option of sending food and other items to patients via guards,and phones were the most commonly sent item.
“I spoke to my father-in-law in a video call today. But I want him to have a phone so we can keep in touch regularly. Only small old phones are accepted by the hospital so we have sent a basic phone, charger, juice, and clothes,” said Premlata (40).
Her father-in-law, Kapil Dev Singh (78), a resident of Aya Nagar, was admitted three days ago. “I did not know which ward he was in; it took a long time for officials to figure it out. But I was finally able to see him…,” said Premlata.
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