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Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad takes COVID Head-On

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a lot of pressure on healthcare institutions in Hyderabad to deliver quality services and save lives of critical patients. Corporate hospitals are no exceptions, as they too have to deal with sky-high expectations from the general public who has high regard for their infrastructure superiority, especially in the field of critical care.

One such private healthcare institution in Hyderabad is Yashoda Hospitals, which had to refocus its entire human resources pool, clinical and non-clinical talent and infrastructure to meet public expectations from patients during the time of the unprecedented pandemic.

The transition from being a top-notch multi-speciality hospital to a facility that provides critical care services to severe Covid-19 positive patients was full of challenges. To get a sense of the scale of Covid-19 operations and also dive into the details of preparations needed for the pandemic, Telangana Today interacted with Dr Pavan Gorukanti, Director, Yashoda Hospitals Group, and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Specialist.

On preparations made

We had enough time during the lockdown and even during the initial part of the outbreak in Telangana, when only government hospitals were providing treatment, to prepare for the surge of Covid-19 cases. We rightly anticipated that the healthcare system would be overwhelmed in due course of time and that corporate hospitals would have to play an important role in treating Covid-19 patients.

New protocol covid19

In the early weeks of March, we started to realign our manpower and infrastructure strength towards Covid-19. Simultaneous preparations for the Covid-19 surge started at all our three facilities in Secunderabad, Somajiguda and Malakpet.

Apart from physical changes in the infrastructure and design of the wards, preparing bedside healthcare workers like nurses and other paramedics was a challenge. We dedicated a lot of time in teaching, encouraging and making our nurses mentally strong. They are literally our backbone and have continued to provide great service to patients.

Being a pulmonologist, I personally have worked in New York and from my past acquaintances in the United States, we literally had a first-hand experience of what happened there. A lot of healthy exchange of information took place between physicians from the US, Italy, United Kingdom and even from China.

While the guidelines from the World Health Organization were broad in nature, the finer clinical intricacies of Covid-19 and its impact on patients came from fellow doctors and surgeons who were dealing personally with the pandemic in the Western world. Based on the advisories from WHO, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Telangana government and doctors from other countries, we framed our own protocols and standards for Covid-19 patients.

Availability of beds

Perhaps ours is the only private hospital in the State that is offering nearly 350 critical care beds for Covid-19 patients in the State capital. Apart from that, there are 800 beds for patients with moderate symptoms who can’t be isolated at home and need clinical assistance in an institutional care. We also have another 150 critical care beds for non-Covid patients like those suffering from a heart attack, stroke or even an accident victim.

There is a lot of talk on the issue of shortage of beds in Hyderabad. However, we must realise and acknowledge the fact that healthcare has been traditionally an underfunded sector in India. The beds to doctors and nurses ratio is woefully low and this got exposed even in developed countries like United States. In cities like New York, when the pandemic was at its peak, a single nurse had to handle seven patients on ventilators while a single doctor had to keep track of 30 critical patients.

We realised this was going to be a problem and had to convert cardiology, nephrology, neurology ICUs and wings from other disciplines into special Covid-19 ICUs. We convinced doctors from other disciplines that in times of a pandemic, such measures were inevitable. All the healthcare wings in the three hospitals had to be converted into Covid-19 only wards or critical care units just because we were facing a pandemic. Through such innovative methods, we managed to set aside nearly 150 ventilators only for critical Covid patients, which is perhaps nowhere else in the State.

Non-Covid patients and rise of video consulting

During the lockdown, there has been a drop in trauma or accident cases but they have gradually started to rise now, when restrictions started to get lifted. We have continued to receive a lot of emergency heart attack cases and stroke victims. In the middle of a raging pandemic, we have also conducted liver transplant surgeries safely in our facilities. We have, however, observed that elective procedures related to heart diseases, orthopaedics etc have got postponed during the pandemic.

Critical Covid-19 cases tend to develop multiple health complications and there is a need to have immediate access to physicians and surgeons from multiple specialities. Apart from attending to the needs of non-Covid patients, doctors from other disciplines too are involved in Covid-19 duty.

The Covid-19 pandemic also forced patients to quickly adapt to video consulting. We knew its advantages but patients always preferred to physically visit the hospital and meet the doctor. However, this practice has changed and to me personally, it appears as if video consultation will be a permanent practice in the future. Unless the patient needs to be checked physically, for other medical needs, I think patients will be willing to video consult with the doctor, instead of physically meeting them.

General advice for public

There are some important things that people must keep in mind and hopefully might have learnt from the pandemic. For me, being vigilant always and never letting your guard down is very important. The three principles of wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and frequent hand washing are very important.

I also observed that young people in Hyderabad are under the impression that nothing will happen to them if they test positive for Covid-19. But, there have been instances where even young Covid-19 patients have died, so never take Covid-19 lightly.

As a society, we must work towards not stigmatising the persons who test positive for Covid-19. There have been instances where healthcare workers were not allowed to enter their homes by neighbours. As human beings, we need to have sympathy towards fellow beings and avoid stigmatising Covid-19 patients.

Credits: Telangana Today

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