Vulnerability to Covid-19 among patients and staff at government-run mental institutions has come to the fore with the state health department recording a total of 188 cases at four such hospitals in Pune, Thane, Nagpur and Ratnagiri as of October 7. Out of them, 68 are patients and 120 are staff members.
According to state health data till October 7, the highest number of Covid-19 cases are at the government mental hospital in Thane, where all 782 patients underwent tests and 42 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Among staff too, all 436 people were tested and 40 came out to be positive.
At Ratnagiri government mental hospital, from among 109 patients, 46 with symptoms were tested and 10 were found to be positive. Out of 82 staffers, 50 with symptoms were tested and 14 were positive.
In Nagpur, out of 412 patients, 225 were tested and 10 were found to be Covid positive, while 26 tested positive out of 190 staffers with symptoms. The total number of staff at this hospital is 216.
At the regional mental hospital in Pune that has the largest number of patients at 1,019, 305 with symptoms underwent testing of which six were found to be Covid positive. At the hospital, out of 646 staffers, 133 with symptoms were tested and 40 were found to be positive.
Dr Duryodhan Chavan, assistant director of health, mental health programme, told The Indian Express that patients had been quarantined at isolation wards in the mental hospitals and they were constantly being monitored.
According to guidelines by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), only those who were symptomatic underwent testing, said Dr Abjijeet Phadnis, Superintendent of Regional Mental Hospital at Pune.
“We have referred them to Sassoon General Hospital and after the 10-day isolation period, they are under quarantine inside their separate rooms at the mental hospital; we have ensured that they can see others by maintaining distance and using necessary protective gear. Some of our social workers also counsel them,” Dr Phadnis said.
District mental health programme strengthened, 75% posts filled
Officials from the state mental health cell said they had strengthened the mental health programme across 34 districts and 70 per cent out of 260 posts had been filled. A team of at least six to seven persons, including psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, nurse, record-keeper, and others, had been identified under the district mental health programme (DMHP). “We have issued advertisements and at least 75 per cent of 260 posts have been filled,” Dr Chavan said.
He added that they had held meetings with psychiatric associations, whose members were involved in counselling patients during lockdown.
From April 3 to August 12, DMHP teams visited 1,933 migrant shelters across the state and counselled 1.2 lakh migrant workers. The teams visited 394 isolation wards at Covid Care Centres and other facilities and counselled 30,300 Covid patients. At 135 dedicated Covid hospitals, 29,928 patients were counselled, he said.
Telemedicine centres had been set up at each district and teams were able to interact with 16,472 patients via video counselling, he added.
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