Concerned over the mental well-being and loneliness of coronavirus patients, Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma on Friday announced the state government’s decision to allow family members to meet them wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit and taking other protections, as well as to provide them home-cooked food.
As of now, patients can only keep in touch with family members over video calls, with no contact allowed. Several patients who died spent their last hours without their loved ones around them.
An order issued by Health Department Principal Secretary Akhil Arora said the decision was taken “looking at the loneliness of corona-infected patients and the stress caused because of it”.
As per the order, the family members of patients infected with Covid-19 and undergoing treatment at hospitals can be allowed to meet them wearing PPE kits, masks, gloves and maintaining social distancing, during visiting hours decided by the hospital. They can also get the patients home-cooked food as per the prescribed protocol.
Sharma said that apart from ensuring the mental well-being of patients, the decision was prompted by requests by people that they be allowed to provide home-made food to their relatives in hospitals. “There are people who just eat home-made food. We consulted doctors and experts and took this decision,” he said.
However, hospitals urged caution. While saying they “really appreciate” the move,
Dr Shrikant Swami, Director, Medical Operations at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur, said, “Donning and doffing PPE kits is a technical process which has to be completed and supervised meticulously by professionals. Otherwise it may result in transmission of the virus to healthy individuals.”
Dr R C Gupta, Medical Superintendent at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, a private dedicated Covid hospital in Jaipur, said, “It is impractical. We have 300 Covid patients and if you bring in 600 attendants with them, it will crowd the hospital. Also, we will have discarded PPE kits lying all around. And a common man doesn’t know how to wear or take off a PPE kit correctly. But of course, if the government has issued such directions, then we will have to follow them.”
Dr Indu Thanvi, the nodal Covid officer at state government-run Mathuradas Mathur Hospital (also a dedicated coronavirus facility) in Jodhpur, said the decision is good as far as alleviating “the psychological trauma of the patient in being alone” is concerned. “If they (the relatives) are properly dressed and they follow the rules and regulations properly, then it is not a problem. The problem is, most of the time, the general public, despite being aware that they have to maintain distance and use masks, don’t follow this. So these guidelines have to be strictly followed, otherwise it can be very disastrous.”
Mahendra Jain, 30, whose 76-year-old grandfather is admitted at a government hospital in Kota, said the authorities had relaxed rules in their case. “He has been admitted for the past eight-10 days. We had requested the doctors to let us meet him and bring him home-made food, and they allowed it,” he said.
As of Friday, Rajasthan had 17,717 active Covid cases. Its total tally so far is 1.11 lakh, with 1,308 deaths. The state has 286 Covid Care Centres, 57 Dedicated Covid Health Centres, and 57 Dedicated Covid Hospitals.
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