Offering Corona with Consultation | Daily News

Offering Corona with Consultation

COVID-19 is affecting all types of services in the world now and just like any other country, Sri Lanka cannot avoid certain hardships created by the virus. But certain pathetic practices have come into existence along with COVID-19 which pose a direct danger to people’s lives.

Recently, such a practice was observed in a private hospital where a Consultant did consultation (private channeling) for several patients. In the middle of COVID-19, private hospitals try to function normally following operational guidelines and all the other health guidelines. Various new steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the patients and doctors.

But some of those ‘steps’ are deadly for the patients. Some of those techniques which have been implemented to protect doctors pose a great danger to the lives of the patients because they come to private hospitals to consult a doctor and they may be forced to go home with COVID-19. Maybe it is doctors and not the private hospital managements implementing some of these ‘new techniques’.

There was a private channeling room of a leading private hospital in Colombo which offered a face shield to every patient who came to consult a doctor. The patient needs to wear it before entering the consultation room. The problem is there were only a few face shields for a large number of patients who consulted this doctor. Maybe the hospital staff disinfected the face shields after every use or may be not. Even after disinfecting a face shield, there is a big chance for the COVID-19 virus to be present in them and enter the body because a face shield is something that stays very close to the face which means close to the mouth, nose and eyes. Even if the patient wears an ordinary or a surgical mask, there is a possibility that the virus can enter the face shield and then into the body.

The doctor and the hospital management can very easily inform all patients prior to the appointment that they need a face shield to enter the consultation room. Then the patients can come with their own face shields. Then they do not need to wear the same face shield used by hundreds of other patients. Some of those patients who used the faced shield can be COVID-19 positive and asymptomatic.

The most effective technique is for the Consultant to wear a face shield. But it seems some consultants are enjoying creature comforts while putting the lives of patients who seek their service in danger. The long delays of Consultants also pose a risk to the lives of patients who consult them because they need to stay at the hospital premises for a long time.

The other pathetic situation is with the visitors who accompany patients to private hospitals. Some patients are always accompanied by five or more visitors and the private hospitals freely allow all of them to go into the consultation area without any restriction. The private hospitals inform patients via SMS that only one person can come with the patient, but when the patient visits the hospital with five or more family members, relations or friends, the hospital management allows all of them to enter the consultation area.

Then the visitors who accompany patients start to talk and laugh after shifting whatever mask they wear to their chin splashing possible COVID-19 droplets all over the place. The private hospital management turns a blind eye to the safety of the patients who visit the hospital for private channeling with one person and follow all health guidelines, especially wearing a standard mask.

Some private hospital managements are only interested in patients’ hard-earned money, without ensuring the safety of the patients who seek their service.

On the other hand, the patients who seek the services of private hospitals should be a little more selfless and they should care for other patients who visit the hospital just like them. Wearing a standard mask all the time protects both the patient and other patients but many patients and especially the people accompanying them do not wear the mask properly continually putting the lives of other patients at risk.

Last week Army Commander and the Head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) General Shavendra Silva told the media that many complaints had been received about private hospitals that were charging exorbitant amounts for Rapid Antigen and PCR tests.

Gen. Silva said that some of those private organisations had also not taken stipulated action after persons tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We have only authorised 30 laboratories to carry out such tests. We had to take these steps because initially there were many issues with test results. One could test positive in one lab and negative in another. We have also stipulated standard charges. Only these should be levied for such tests. It is much better if those existing price ranges can be further reduced for the benefit of the public,” he told the media last week.

He urged private sector health administrators not to abuse the opportunity they had to carry out tests. “It is obligatory for the private sector to make those who come for Rapid Antigen and PCR tests wait until the release of their results, but this is not done. We have a lot of complaints. We have been told that nothing has been done even after a person is tested positive for COVID-19. The Health authorities are not informed of such positive cases and private hospitals have a habit of releasing these people as soon as possible.”

It is the responsibility of the private hospital managements to make sure that they deliver a satisfactory service to the people during this hard time and it is the responsibility of the rich and middle-class people who seek the services of the private hospitals to be selfless and care for others who seek the same services. Wearing a standard mask properly all the time to protect oneself and others is not something that cannot be done. If patients who seek the services of private hospitals do not follow health guidelines issued to people by the Government and health authorities, the private hospital managements should have a proper mechanism to monitor such patients and request them to follow health guidelines or prevent them from obtaining the services.

The other most important factor is keeping the records of the patients who are seeking services of private hospitals.

Here in Sri Lanka, we cannot expect that all patients will give true details when considering the experiences and incidents reported since March last year. The best way of keeping the true details of the patients is obtaining such details from the Consultants.

It is because the patient needs to give true details to the Consultant, otherwise the patient will fall into trouble when consulting him or her for the second time. Another reliable way is tracking the e-channeling or normal channeling receipts. These techniques will protect people from COVID-19 because they do not need to use public pens and spend time, etc.