Authorities at the Regional Mental Hospital, Yerawada, are sparing no effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease after a 40-year-old nurse recently tested positive for the infection.
“During the last three months of lockdown, none of our 1,100 mentally ill patients got infected but now, with ‘Unlock 1.0’, new admissions to the hospital have increased, with patients from various districts,” said Dr Abhijeet Phadnis, superintendent at the state’s largest mental hospital.
“The nurse, who hails from Parvati area, is undergoing treatment at Sassoon General Hospital and is stable,” he said, adding that six close contacts at the hospital had included staff attendants, and they have all been quarantined.
The contacts did not include any patients as the nurse had last reported for duty on June 17, but left soon as she was unwell, said Dr Phadnis.
Since the lockdown was eased at the beginning of the month, the hospital has seen a number of new admissions. “Maintaining social distancing for mentally ill patients is a huge challenge. The newly-admitted ones who are brought here from various districts are quarantined at the isolation ward for 14 days… so far, none have symptoms,” said the hospital superintendent.
To keep mentally ill patients engaged, hospital authorities have been conducting yoga sessions, as well as classes on sewing and paper-making. “We have also been able to reunite nearly 40 mentally ill persons with their families after the lockdown was lifted,” said Dr Phadnis.
16 mentally ill persons reunited with families at Shraddha Rehabilitation Centre
Magsaysay awardee Dr Bharat Vatwani, whose Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation leads efforts in rescuing mentally ill destitute people and reuniting them with their families, told The Indian Express that a total of 16 reunions were done during the lockdown.
Six of the families braved lockdown hurdles to reach the Foundation’s centre at Karjat after being contacted by the Shradda Rehabilitation Centre authorities via local police stations, and the remaining 10 were reunited with the help of ambulance services.
“Before the lockdown, we were able to reunite 243 recovered destitute persons with their families across India. Of the 16 recently reunited with their families, two persons came from Uttar Pradesh while another two came from Andhra Pradesh and one each from Karnataka and Bihar. The man from Bihar is a teacher who flew down from Patna to take his son, who was at our Karjat centre,” said Dr Vatwani.
Emotions ran high as several had given up hope to see their loved ones again because of the lockdown, he added. The foundation was also helped by the proactive involvement of the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, which distributed dry ration kits among migrant labourers, tribals, widows and the disabled in villages around Karjat.
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