Unlike during the first wave of COVID-19, several major hospitals in Chennai managed to simultaneously run non-COVID-19 services, except having to suspend elective surgeries. Now, with a steady decline in cases, the number of people visiting outpatient departments is on the rise, and hospitals are all set to resume elective surgeries soon.
Last year, some major hospitals brought their non-COVID-19 services to a halt as the inflow of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 started to rise. However, this has not been the case during the second wave — all major government hospitals ran outpatient services by making alternative arrangements.
E. Theranirajan, Dean of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said they did not halt any non-COVID-19 services during the second wave.
“Emergency services, as well as non-COVID-19 outpatient departments (OPD) and surgical OPDs functioned as usual in the last few months. Only the number of patients coming to OPDs reduced during the period. It reduced to 300-400 a day during the peak of COVID-19, and the numbers are gradually rising now. On Wednesday, we had nearly 4,000 people visiting non- COVID-19 OPDs,” he said.
With the inflow of infected people — both OP and in-patient — reducing, the hospital is slowly resuming regular activities. “We have 130 admissions and around 160-170 outpatients for COVID-19 every day. We had stopped only elective surgeries, and those are now being resumed slowly,” he added.
At the Government Stanley Medical College (SMC) Hospital, outpatient services were shifted to the nearby Bharathi Women’s College as soon as COVID-19 cases started to rise. Separate teams of doctors were posted for OPD services, P. Balaji, Dean of SMC, said.
“We have been handling emergencies, and OPDs have been operational throughout the second wave. We moved the emergency, trauma and TAEI wards to the diabetology block on the premises of the Institute of Social Paediatrics of the hospital. Similarly, the emergency operation theatre (OT) has been functioning in the paediatric OT,” he said.
The number of people coming to non-COVID-19 OPDs has increased to over 1,000, after declining to 400-500 a day. “Presently, the hospital has about 750 COVID-19 patients. By the end of this week, if the active caseload drops below 500, we will start doing non-COVID-19 work in full swing. Elective cases are yet to start at the hospital as there is a risk of patients contracting COVID-19 during hospitalisation,” he said.
Venkatachalam, director of medical services, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, said the hospital had resumed non-COVID-19 services.
“Acute COVID-19 patient inflow has significantly reduced in the last 10 days. However, we continue to receive post-COVID-19 patients with complications. All stringent safety measures including screening for COVID symptoms are being continued to ensure that non-COVID-19 patients are not exposed to the infected ones. We have separate blocks for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Therefore, there is no risk of exposure for non-COVID-19 patients. We have also ensured that there is no mixing of staff between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 treatment areas,” he said in a written response.
The inflow of COVID-19 patients has slightly reduced, Navin Gnanasekaran, associate director of medical services, MGM Healthcare, said. “Right now, we have started cardiology, general surgery and semi-emergency services. General medicine OPD was already functioning since COVID-19 started. We have started opening up certain OPDs, such as ENT and ophthalmology, due to the rise in mucormycosis cases. Cardiac surgeries and procedures in the cath lab are slowly being reactivated. We are slowly increasing surgeries and elective procedures,” he said.
Health checks and dental and eye check-ups will be resumed in the end, he added.