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YCM hospital allows one family member to attend to critical Covid patient, move raises concerns

The family member should be present within hospital premises and attend to the patient whenever required.

Written by Manoj Dattatreya More | Pune |
Updated: May 9, 2021 10:55:58 pm
Pune: Yeshwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital has set up two wards with a capacity of 60 beds to accommodate black fungus patientsYeshwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital, Pune. (Source:

A dedicated Covid hospital, the civic-run Yeshwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital has become the first to allow one family member to attend to a critical Covid-19 patient. The family member should be present within hospital premises and attend to the patient whenever required. The move has raised concerns that it could lead to further spread of the infection, but has also drawn support with the district administration saying rural hospitals provided bedside attendants to Covid patients.

“We have allowed relatives to take care of the patient in case the patient happens to be severely ill and cannot go to the toilet. Though we provide bed pan to such patients, they are not in a condition to move out of there and go to the toilet. They need help and we cannot provide a nurse and attendant to each and every patient,” said YCMH dean Dr Rajendra Wable.

Dr Wable said YCMH has some critical patients who needed ICU beds. “Since we cannot provide them with an ICU bed, we keep them in other wards. Severely ill patients are not in a position to take care of themselves. And we also don’t have staff to constantly attend to a patient. Whenever a patient requires help, our staff call up the relative, who is supposed to remain present within the hospital premises,” he said.

Dr Wable also said the hospital followed a proper procedure in this connection. “We get a form filled and signed from relatives that they will take all precautions while helping the patient in the ward,” he said.

Dr Wable further said this kind of practice was only being followed at YCM hospital and not in other civic hospitals. “We have 650 patients, but don’t have adequate staff to care for each and every patient; especially those who cannot move out of their beds,” he added.

Advocate Manisha Jadhav, a resident of Nehrunagar, said one of her relatives, a senior citizen, was recently admitted to YCM hospital. “The patient was admitted in the general ward. One of the relatives stayed with him. The relative would take the patient to the toilet whenever required,” she said.

Jadhav said a couple of days later, however, the relative also tested positive for the virus. “Both were moved to a private hospital. How can YCM hospital allow this? This could only lead to the spread of the infection,” she said.

Jadhav also said the move was certainly in the interest of the patient, but was fraught with risk. “Not only does the attendee run the risk of contracting Covid-19, but unknowingly, may also spread it to others,” she added.

However, Jayshree Marale, a retired principal of a PCMC school, who recovered from Covid-19 in March, said, “In case of senior citizens, presence of a family member works wonders. Otherwise, seniors, if they are severely ill, cannot even step out of their bed. It creates the problem of going to the toilet. Also, if some family member is present, the patient does not feel lonely and helpless. Most Covid-19 patients are in a state of shock and they need to be counselled and calmed. This can be done effectively by a family member,” she said.

“In my case, the hospital where I was admitted had allowed my family members to meet me and help me out…” she added.

Dr Prakash Rokde, senior medical officer at government-run Aundh General Hospital, said, “The Aundh hospital does not allow family members to attend to Covid-19 patients. However, I think if a family member is available, the patient’s morale gets a boost. It acts as a soothing balm for the patient who is in a state of shock.”

Citing his own case, Dr Rokde said, “One of my close relatives died at a private hospital on Saturday. He was constantly calling us and telling us that he was alright and should be taken home. This was out of fear, I suppose… we need to keep Covid patients calm, so that it aids their recovery.”

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Dr Rokde, however, said, “Allowing a patient’s relative to stay is not a practical move. This could lead to the spread of the infection… It requires more precautions and stricter norms.”

The district administration said the practice was implemented at rural hospitals in the first wave. “Though we did not allow family members, we have allowed bedside attendants to take care of Covid-19 patients aged over 80, patients who were differently abled and lactating pregnant mothers,” said Ayush Prasad, CEO, Pune zilla parishad.

Prasad, however, said in the second wave, they had not yet implemented the practice. “We have, however, told private hospitals they can keep bedside attendants for a certain category of patients on payment…” he added.

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