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Our task force equipped to treat black fungus, Covid cases, says AIIMS Bathinda director

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bathinda has formed a task force to tackle black fungus cases and the institute is providing free treatment to patients of the disease, who otherwise are charged very heavily by private health hubs.Dr. Dinesh Kumar Singh, the Director of AIIMS, Bathinda, talks about the black fungus task force and how it works

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
June 3, 2021 10:51:48 pm
AIIMS Bathinda director Dr. Dinesh Kumar Singh

AIIMS has created a task force to tackle black fungus cases. What was the need for creating the task force?

To treat black fungus, as per laid down protocols and guidelines, we needed a multidisciplinary approach consisting of specialty doctors. So, from among the available faculty members, we made a focused group to treat fungus cases. Faculties from ENT, Eye, Dental, and Critical Care Anaesthesia were made members of this task force for they can provide better coordinated treatment for the patients.

How equipped is AIIMS, Bathinda, to tackle black fungus cases?

We have almost all the basic required equipment — like CT, MRI, X-Ray — along with a team of microbiologists, pathologists, and anaesthesiologists available with us. At AIIMS, we have enough facilities to treat black fungus cases at present. As of today, we just lack a neurosurgeon that could have been beneficial for the patients, besides being a valuable member of the task force.

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In the absence of a neurosurgeon, how challenging is it to treat black fungus patients?

The presence of the neurosurgeon would have helped us in the surgical process of a patient. But surgery is not a must for the treatment of all fungus patients. We have ENT, Eye, and Dental surgeons who work in the facial region of a patient.

How many patients have been treated here and how many have died?

So far, we have admitted 13 patients of black fungus, out of which most have had to undergo surgeries. These surgeries are very extensive and may take more than 6 hours to complete. So far, no patient of black fungus has died in this hospital, even after extensive surgical procedures.

What is the basic line of treatment for black fungus and how costly is it in a private hospital?

There is a well published protocol by the Critical Care Society and ICMR/GoI to treat such cases and if required operative procedures are also indicated in the protocols. The basic line is Diagnosis, treatment by medical drugs, surgery (if required), ICU Admission (if required), in that order. The drugs used for treating black fungus are costly.

I cannot comment on the charges in private hospitals. However, treatment at AIIMS is free of cost.

After Covid, black fungus seems to be triggering panic among many patients. What would you say to patients at this moment?

Yes, there is palpable panic, but I want to assure people that there is no reason to fear the disease Though the incidence of the disease is high, it can be treated if a patient reaches hospital on time and if many organs are not involved.

How many Covid beds do you have in your hospital at the moment? Are you handling all categories of Covid patients?

We have 25 beds of level-3 and 45 beds of level-2. We still have some vacant L-2 beds in the hospital.

What are the early symptoms of black fungus? Who all are vulnerable?

The symptoms are well described in text books and reference books. We should see the palate and nose of the patients from the beginning even if they have come for treatment of mild Covid. It is more important to catch the symptoms early in diabetics and in patients who have been taking steroids.

Any dos or don’ts for patients?

Firstly do not panic, and go see a doctor even if there is some pain, swelling, redness, blackness in the facial area

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