Doctors at two Delhi govt hospitals designated as Covid-only facilities demand opening of OPD services

They said that without exposure to practical experience by attending to all kinds of patients in the OPD, their growth and experience as medical professionals was getting hampered

Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, Delhi (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, Delhi (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

Ashlin Mathew

The resident doctors of two of Delhi’s COVID-19 designated hospitals have written several letters to their medical directors and the government to throw open up the out-patient services for all patients.

The resident doctors association of Lok Nayak Hospital, which is under Maulana Azad Medical College, and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, affiliated to University College of Medical Sciences, have stated that the hospitals should open up OPD services as it is affecting both patients and students.

When the number of COVID-19 cases began to rise, LN Hospital was declared Covid-only in April and GTB Hospital was designated a Covid hospital in the last week of May.

“Lok Nayak is still a Covid-19 hospital. We used to treat more than 9,000 OPD patients daily and perform 200 surgeries. With LNH being designated as a COVID-19 hospital, where will these patients go? This is depriving the public of health care facilities. The government has issued guidelines for Unlock 5.0, so they should begin to think about opening the hospital too,” said Dr Keshave Singh, president of MAMC RDA.

But this is not all. “MAMC is a premier teaching institute and students opt for this college for the vast experience offered by the college and the OPD. Now, it’s been six months where junior and senior residents of various departments have not met patients at all. We can learn theory, but without practical experience, it’s of no use. Soon, students will graduate without the requisite experience. This will only hamper their growth as doctors and in turn affect patients,” added Singh, who is part of the Orthopaedic department.

Before the pandemic, his department would perform at least 10 elective surgeries a day, in addition to the emergency procedures. He has not performed a surgery in six months.

They have written two letters in the last three days to the medical director and have marked a copy to the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “Restricting LNH to only Covid cases is seriously hindering the training and education of students. This will lead to long-lasting damage to the society and public health. Non-covid services should be started in the hospital soon,” stated the letter.

“The decision of the Delhi government to designate Lok Nayak Hospital exclusively for Covid-19 patients was a proud moment for all of us. However, this has led to halt of other clinical activities. It is seriously hampering the academics and skills of the residents. Standstill of clinical activities is not just an academic loss, but is also putting a dent on hopes of medical students studying in MAMC,” the first letter stated.

A similar letter was written by the GTB Hospital RDA requesting the opening up of the hospital to non-Covid treatment. GTB Hospital would treat at least 5,000 outpatients daily before the onset of the pandemic. “Currently, with all clinical activities other than Covid treatment at halt, it is endangering the knowledge of the residents. This will affect the quality of doctors passing out from the institute,” stated the letter, which was also marked to the Delhi government health secretary.

The medical colleges are yet to take a decision. A meeting has been scheduled with the Delhi government on this matter. “We are concerned and are reviewing the situation to open up the OPD. We are meeting the officials of the Delhi government on Monday where this issue will be discussed. It’s only after that I can give the plan. We all are in favour of the hospital being opened up as both patients and students are suffering. We have to follow the government orders but non-Covid patients should not suffer. AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital have successfully opened up OPD, so it is possible,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, LNH medical director.

Delhi recorded 3,483 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, October 15, taking the total toll of infected people to 3.21 lakh. The cases in Delhi are on the rise again after having slowed down in July and August. The numbers had risen sharply in September and had reduced at that time too.

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