Even as September is dedicated to raising awareness on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, at Chaitanya Institute of Mental Health, authorities struggled to care for more than 200 Covid-19 patients, including staff members.
“It was a devastating experience as about 50 per cent patients in the dementia care unit were affected by Covid-19,” said Ronny George, founder of the institute working in the field of psychosocial rehabilitation. The patients have recovered and the institute has now reopened its facility.
“Usually, we have several activities lined up to observe World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21), but the last couple of months were brutal and it is only hard work and a dedicated team that has helped our patients recover,” said George, who alleged that some private hospitals refused to admit elderly patients suffering from dementia. “Unfortunately, at some hospitals we did not get a good response and, hence, decided to look after our own patients,” he said.
More than 200 patients, including staff, were affected by Covid-19 at Chaitanya Institute of Mental Health. Of the 200 patients admitted to the residential facility, at least 80 to 100 beds are reserved for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. “At least 70 patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were infected with Covid-19 and Dr Imran Shaikh and his wife, Sapna Shaikh, a psychiatrist with the team, took up the challenge to look after them,” said George, who is also the secretary general of the Pune Chapter of Alzheimer Related Disorder Society of India.
“We isolated our patients and the medical team was constantly engaged in looking after them,” Dr Imran Shaikh said, adding that initially numbers were low but there was a rapid increase and serious cases had to be moved to Covid Care Centres.
He said at Chaitanya institute, they ensured that patients practised distancing, and that the team worked hard as patients already had underlying psychiatric problems and were taking medication. Presently, only 21 have mild infections and are isolated, and the centre had re-opened, he added.
According to Dr Bhushan Joshi, neurologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Alzheimer’s disease was the most common form of dementia resulting in loss of memory and thinking skills. “People suffering from Alzheimer’s need more care during this pandemic. They need to be reminded of hand hygiene, to wear a mask, and to maintain distancing. Having someone with Alzheimer’s in the family healthy despite a contagious virus can be challenging,” Dr Joshi said.
Five patients, 32 staffers affected by Covid at govt mental hospital
At the government regional mental hospital, authorities said only five patients from over 1,000 mentally ill patients were affected with Covid-19 while 32 staff members were reported to have contracted the viral infection. Dr Abhijit Phadnis, medical superintendent of Regional Mental Hospital, said four inmates had recovered and one had succumbed.
“The patient’s lungs were compromised due to tuberculosis and she died due to Covid-related complications,” Dr Phadnis said.
The hospital administration has been able to send at least 300 mentally ill patients, who were now stable, back home. “We have instructed our social workers to counsel families and ensure that recovered patients are reunited with them,” Dr Phadnis said.
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