At GTB Hospital in north east Delhi, patients queue up outside the recently opened round-the-clock fever clinic. Some patients appear weak and hang on to their relatives for support, some are in no position to even stand as their relatives position themselves in the queue.
A security guard wearing a mask is making sure that not more than one patient at a time meets the doctor.
Three doctors are with a patient each, while two nurses inside the room man the register that logs the scheduled consults for the day. During the first shift from 9 am to 3 pm, 144 patients have come for consult and the next shift will see 80 more patients.
With the spurt in the number of fever cases in the national capital, hospitals have had to call in extra staff to handle the rush.
At GTB hospital, authorities have made doctors available round-the-clock after borrowing them from different departments.
“We don’t have time to even breathe during the peak hours. Initially, I worked on shifts from 9am-4pm, but now it has changed. For the doctors assigned in the fever clinic, the shifts are from 9am-3 pm, and then till 9pm. The night-shift is from 9pm to 9am,” said Dr Ashwani Sharma who has been called in from psychiatry department on Tuesday. He says he will get an off the next day only after he pulls a night-shift in the hospital.
He adds that the patients generally come to the clinic complaining of fever and if they suspect it is a case of dengue. “From the last year the cases of dengue have been less, but people are in panic. We ask for symptoms like urine in stool, dehydration as signs apart from the fever and also conduct tests for platelet counts. We ask them to shift to the hospital if we find anything suspicious or else we give them drugs to reduce fever,” he said.
Dr Sunil Kumar, Medical Director of GTB, says a total of 12 doctors have been borrowed from para-clinical departments to manage the fever situation. “Altogether there were 33 doctors in the emergency department who catered to all sorts of problems, including fever. But with the recent increase of number of fever patients we have decided to have a specialised clinic. We have 12 dedicated doctors as of now spread over three shifts,” says Kumar. He adds that on ad-hoc basis he has borrowed doctors from different departments and are in the process of recruiting more doctors for the rising fever cases.