NAHARLAGUN, Mar 20: Adequate personal protection equipment (PPE), such as face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers, are not being made available to the doctors and staff working at Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) here.
The complaint has been made by most of the doctors and staffers of the institute.
On 18 March, a group of doctors had written to the TRIHMS chief medical superintendent (CMS), requesting for early issuance of PPE for emergency medical officers and other casualty staff on duty as a protective measure in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The doctors stated in the letter that the on-duty doctors and casualty staffers are extremely vulnerable to getting exposed to the virus and could themselves become sources of infection to the vulnerable, sick patients.
“We are working under a lot of stress since we have to attend to a number of patients during the day and, like other people, doctors are also not immune to Covid-19 virus infection,” said one of the on-duty doctors.
He said that almost 98 percent of the doctors and staffers have not been provided with masks and sanitizers.
“Most of the doctors and staff are coming to work bringing their own masks and hand sanitizers. The hospital authority has only provided us with a bottle of alcohol each, which we are using now as hand sanitizers,” he said.
Most of the on-duty nurses also expressed concern over the lack of PPE in the hospital.
One of the doctors said that, at the request of the doctors, the CMS has issued them five bottles of spirit to be used as hand sanitizer, which, the doctor said, “is a better alternative to other sanitizers available in the market.”
He said that sanitizers containing less than 60 percent alcohol are of no use, while spirit, which has 90 percent alcohol content, is a better alternative.
He, however, said that the hospital authority is unable to provide protective face masks to the doctors and they have all bought masks on their own.
Speaking to The Arunachal Times, TRIHMS CMS, Dr Hage Ambing, said that the hospital authority is finding ways and means to address the shortage of PPE for the doctors and the staff.
“The shortage is due to the fact that masks and hand sanitizers have become out-of-stock from the market,” he said.
“We are doing all we can to address the deficit of the said PPE,” Dr Ambing said, adding that the authority has also requested the state government to ensure early procurement of equipment for the Covid-19 isolation ward at TRIHMS, which is yet to become functional.
On the issue of procurement of special, dedicated equipment for the isolation ward, TRIHMS Director, Dr Moji Jini, informed that the TRIHMS authority has prepared the list and submitted the estimate to the state government.
“Since the procurement of required equipment may take time, we have for the time being placed some equipment from other regular use wards to the Covid-19 isolation. There could be possible delay in the procurement process because of scarcity of equipment in the entire country, following the sudden rise in demands.
“However, the state government needs to ensure that the procurement is done at the earliest. It all depends on the state government now. I have also written to the health secretary regarding this,” Dr Jini said.
He meanwhile informed that TRIHMS has formed a task force which will review the situation 24×7 every day, and that a help desk for Covid-19 was established on Friday.
The director also informed that the regional officer in-charge of ICMR, Dibrugarh (Assam), Dr Vishwajyoti Borkakoty, had on Thursday visited TRIHMS and helped the authority plan out the establishment of a diagnostic lab in the state, the proposal for which, Dr Jini said, “has been completed and will be submitted to the health secretary soon.”
He appealed to the people to take necessary precautions and avoid going to crowded places, including hospitals.
“Only those who are sick and requiring emergency care should visit the hospitals, either government or private, for treatment, while others with mild illnesses requiring outpatient care, including dental patients, may avoid visit to hospitals for the next two weeks or more to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he added.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Alo Libang informed that the state government is doing all it can to ensure that all required materials, including PPE, are provided to hospitals statewide.
“We convened a meeting today, where we advised shopkeepers to make hand sanitizers and masks available in the market and desist from hoarding. At the district level, funds have been released under the Mukhya Mantri Rogi Kalyan Kosh for the purpose. Also, guidelines have been placed, as per which funds under disaster management can be used for all emergency work,” the minister informed.
Heema Hospital sets up chamber for collecting suspected Covid-19 samples
Heema Hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Kesang Thongdok, informed that the hospital has identified an isolated chamber for collection of samples from suspected Covid-19 patients.
However, the hospital team is in the process of acquiring logistic support for the chamber from the government, such as personal protection equipment and viral transport medium, to transport the samples to the testing centres.
“As and when we get it, we’ll be able to take samples of suspected cases,” Dr Thongdok said.
He, however, informed that samples of only suspected Covid-19 cases will be taken.
“Right now it’s the flu season, so most of the cases we have are of flu. The public should remember that even though the symptoms are similar, there are some differences. The main symptoms of Covid-19 are fever and sore throat with dry cough. A running nose is not a prominent symptom. Those with allergic cough and runny nose should not worry or panic,” he said.
“We’ll be collecting samples from those who have a history of travel to endemic areas and have high fever with sore throat and breathing difficulty. We have not come across any person who comes under this category as of now,” Dr Thongdok said.
Additionally, the hospital’s staff has been provided with safety equipment such as sanitizers and masks. They have also been given proper training at the micro level.
However, with the shortage of sanitizers, there is no such arrangement for people visiting the hospital. Dr Thongdok advised people to avoid visiting hospitals unless absolutely necessary.
“The main thing to follow in Covid-19 is social distancing. It is very important to avoid crowded places, especially hospitals. Those who are required to come to the hospital should wear a mask at least to remain protected,” he said.