In Delhi, when a septuagenarian suddenly took ill and developed high temperature, her family immediately contacted HealthCare atHOME — a personalised home healthcare provider in India — to rule out the possibility of COVID-19.
“My mother-in-law is already bed-ridden. A month ago, she developed certain symptoms starting with fever. We feared the worst since her immune system is already compromised because of other health problems. I have two small children and my father-in-law is a heart patient, too. We started keeping our distance. Eventually, we contacted the team of HealthCare atHOME because we had used their services earlier as well. They came and selected a room with an attached toilet in our 3BHK. The whole house was sanitized. A nurse arrived in PPE, and she was the only one in contact with the patient. There was a doctor on call who kept giving instructions. We got a COVID-19 test done, results of which arrived in 36 hours. Thankfully, it was negative.
“Despite that, they kept telling us to keep our distance. She was being treated for the next five days at home. Seven days later, she underwent another test, and again it was found to be negative. She was declared fine, and we were told that it was another condition that had caused the fever. We never wanted to take her to the hospital, fearing the risk of exposure to the virus. Thankfully, we were assured and with the kind of isolation that was arranged for us at home, we knew that if things were to turn bad, they would also provide a ventilator along with a nurse,” her daughter-in-law tells indianexpress.com on the condition of anonymity.
It would, by no means, be a hyperbole to say that the ongoing pandemic has caused a lot of paranoia in the minds of people. Among other things, there is the constant worry of what happens when the tests are affirmative. Where do patients go and what does quarantine look like? Well, it can look like the bedroom you are currently in, if God forbid, you come to learn that you are infected. If your symptoms are mild and you do not have any comorbidities, through many private hospitals, you can now avail home-care services.
How is it different from hospitalisation?
While the Noida-based HealthCare atHOME has been providing services such as ICUs, cancer care, step-down beds, nursing, physiotherapy, attendant services, medicine delivery, and elderly care in many homes across the country, private hospitals like Max, Mendanta, Fortis, and the like have started offering packages for COVID-positive patients, through which they can avail services from the comfort of their home.
For instance, Max Healthcare has launched a homecare package for patients in Delhi, wherein those who show mild symptoms can avail the 15-day remote monitoring package that starts from Rs 333 per day. Group Medical Director Dr Sandeep Budhiraja said in a press release: “As many as 70 to 80 per cent of coronavirus positive patients show no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. The recovery period for such patients is about 14 to 17 days if proper home isolation guidelines are followed. If someone shows mild symptoms, there is no need to immediately rush to a hospital. One can self-isolate in the comfort of their home. The patient-friendly, affordable packages will not only monitor the health of patients, they will also help prevent overcrowding at hospitals in the time of the pandemic.”
But how can a patient know if their symptoms are mild or extreme?
“If someone has fever, cough and sore throat, but they are able to do their daily activities on their own, like bathing, eating, and using the bathroom, albeit with slight weakness, we can say they have mild symptoms. But, if there is someone who is not able to walk up to the bathroom even, without getting breathless, they need hospitalisation at the earliest. Patients have to know that in the majority of cases, they do not need hospitalisation. If, during the period of home isolation, you do not notice any kind of health deterioration — generally seen between day 7 and day 12 — know that there is no need to panic anymore.
“The dos and don’ts are also simple. Just do not drink anything cold, and have foods that can boost your immunity. We also see if there is an elderly person at home, who has additional health issues. They are not the ideal candidates for home care; they need to be monitored closely, and if required, be hospitalised, too,” says Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director, Internal Medicine, Medanta.
The hospital is providing packages starting Rs 4,900, all the way up to Rs 21,900.
What do these packages entail?
More or less, most of these hospitals provide similar packages that you can avail based on your requirements. Some of it can be personalised, too.
According to Dr Ritu Garg, Zonal Director of Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, the services that are on offer are: tele-assistance and training on home isolation protocols, doctor consultation through video call, psychologist and dietician consultation, app-based self-monitoring of temperature, heart rate and other symptoms, safety guidelines for caregiver, and home sample collection and isolation kits, which include hand sanitizer, gloves, thermometer, disposable crockery and bio-medical waste bags.
“Currently, the services are available in Gurugram, but efforts are being made to launch the programme in other hospitals of Fortis Healthcare pan India. This step of home isolation will help patients to stay in the comfort of their home. Additionally, medical professionals will be able to offer extensive care to the patients who are critical and require comprehensive medical care,” she tells indianexpress.com.
But it is not just private hospitals that are encouraging home care. Portea Medical, a healthcare startup, has partnered with the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Government of Delhi for home isolation services for patients in these cities.
“What the government has decided is that all the people who have been diagnosed positive, they are checked if they can be isolated at home. There is a set of criteria that is to be met, ranging from their age, to their health condition and comorbidities, as well as the infrastructure at home. Thereafter, they share these inputs with us. We talk to them on a daily basis, and check their health condition, reiterate some of the dos and don’ts on isolation and sanitation, etc. If their symptoms get worse, and their health deteriorates, we get a doctor tele-consultation done for them.
“The doctors, thereafter, take a call if the patient needs to go to a hospital. The arrangement is then made by the ward infrastructure to transfer them. There is also a 24X7 number on which people can call if they have queries of any kind. This happens for the entire duration of the quarantine period, which is 17 days in Delhi and 14 days in Chennai,” Meena Ganesh, MD and CEO of Portea Medical, explains.