Telangana government is considering requesting Covid-19 survivors to volunteer their services as counsellors for those fighting the virus.
“Talking to coronavirus patients in isolation is a huge help. In fact, it will help them recover faster. Some volunteers are offering plasma but we are also looking for people who could interact with patients and allay their fears, instil confidence in them, encourage them, and help them in their recovery,” the State Covid-19 coordinator, Dr Shravan Kumar, said.
As of June 24, a total of 4,321 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus and discharged in the state. Some of them have volunteered to donate plasma and it has been tried on five persons who have recovered.
Infectious diseases specialists in Hyderabad are saying it was now time for persons who have recovered from Covid-19 to volunteer their services at hospitals where staff and patient care providers are overwhelmed due to the rising number of infected persons.
“I am not just talking about donating plasma. There has to be a humanitarian effort from people who have recovered to volunteer to care for sick people. In the coronavirus wards, patients feel isolated and dejected as family members cannot or do not want to go near them for fear of getting infected. As chances of getting re-infected is negligible, it is now time for people who have recovered to help Covid-19 patients by providing care, like bringing them food, boosting their morale, just spending a few hours with them, talking to them about their experience of recovering and healing. Patients are more likely to recover faster if they have someone caring for them,’’ said Dr N Suneetha, a specialist in Infectious Diseases Specialist at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Pointing at staff shortage at city’s Gandhi Hospital, where Covid-19 patients are being treated, and at Osmania Hospital where persons with SARI are being admitted for testing, experts say that while doctors and other medical staff will continue to do their work even if they are overwhelmed, cured persons should volunteer to help in non-medical work.
Dr Mustafa Afzal, head of Infectious Diseases department at Care Hospitals, said government hospitals should set up counselling centres manned by cured Covid-19 persons.
“Communicating with coronavirus patients is very important. There are still taboo and myths about coronavirus. Patients are isolated and scared, and they are away from their families. In such a situation, encouragement from a person who has recovered will help a lot. The government should start centres inside hospitals, similar to the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres that were set up to help HIV patients. ICTCs have been hugely successful in counselling and supporting patients. Such type of centres manned by people who recovered from Covid-19 will be huge morale boosters. They can talk with patients without any fear of getting infected, and ease their tensions. Cases will peak in July and it is vital that cured persons volunteer for non-medical work at hospitals,’’ Dr Afzal said.
Head of Infectious Diseases department at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) Dr M Subbalakshmi said that even if 10 per cent of recovered persons offer help for a few hours daily, it would make a lot of difference.
Cases of elderly Covid-19 patients at Gandhi Hospital or those with SARI symptoms at Osmania Hospital being abandoned by fearful families are being reported routinely.
On Tuesday, a 93-year-old woman who recovered was not allowed by her family to return home although Gandhi Hospital declared her medically fit and discharged her.
On Wednesday, there were 560 Covid-19 patients at Gandhi Hospital. The nursing staff—50 per cent of which goes into quarantine after a week’s duty— is overstretched to take care of patients.
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