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Private hospitals to share H1N1 load

Screening and isolation facilities for suspected swine flu cases will be extended to some private hospitals.

Written by Swatee Kher | Mumbai |
August 10, 2009 3:01:52 am

Screening and isolation facilities for suspected swine flu cases will be extended to some private hospitals.

So far,with no Tamiflu stocks,private hospitals have been referring critical patients to government and civic hospitals that have such facilities. On Sunday,the state asked civic authorities to rope in private hospitals that meet the requirements.

“Only hospitals that comply with central guidelines for isolation facilities will be roped in,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan,after a meeting of state and civic authorities. The chief secretary will meet private hospital authorities to identify those that can set up isolation facilities.

“These hospitals will be notified by the government to treat patients and medicines will be made available. Private practitioners have been asked to send suspected cases there,” Chavan said.

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Notified private hospitals need no longer route samples through Kasturba Hospital; they can send these directly to the testing centres in Pune and Mumbai.

Doctors of medical colleges have been mobilised to help peripheral hospitals,said Dr Sanjay Oak,director of medical education and research for the BMC. Government hospitals have been asked to be on standby. “BMC hospitals are managing it well. If need be,the JJ Group of Hospitals will be roped in. JJ Hospital with 20 designated beds,GT Hospital with 10 and St George Hospital with 10 are on standby. We have also asked Solapur Medical College to keep 20 beds,” said Bhushan Gagrani,secretary,medical education and drugs.

Helplines will be set up at the Mantralaya and at the district level.

The state has asked testing centres to administer Tamiflu to suspected cases without waiting for test results,so that genuine cases don’t develop further complications.

The government recently got two lakh doses of Tamiflu from the Centre,of which one lakh are for Mumbai. “Once private hospitals are identified,a committee of state and civic authorities will monitor how Tamiflu is being administered,” said Dr Oak. Two swine flu patients on Tamiflu in Mumbai have had side effects. “They had fits of vomiting and nausea. Side effects with Tamiflu are known but they are not adverse,” said Dr Daksha Shah,head of epidemiology at BMC.

“Side effects can include hallucination and tingling numbness,hence the drug should not be taken over the counter,but taken strictly under medical supervision,” said Dr Nilima Kshirsagar,director professor,Infectious Diseases and Interdisciplinary Research,MUHS.

At Kasturba’s screening centre,authorities stopped distributing N95 masks as they are in short supply. People coming in for tests are being asked to buy from shops where only common surgical masks are available,and at high prices.

The government has advised people to use handkerchiefs and not pick up used masks. Officials said N95 masks need to be used only by medical staff and suspected cases. The state has asked the Centre for additional supply.

The BMC declared on Sunday that it is not practically possible to start screening centres at bus terminals and railway stations. Doctors advise train travellers with cough and cold to use handkerchiefs. At the airport,30 doctors on shifts are screening arriving international passengers.

(with inputs from Stuti Shukla)

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