Lock down activities at Aravind-Theni
The COVID-19 crisis is possibly one of the most severe pandemics of our lifetime. I hope and am sure that we are unlikely to witness another one. The resilience, grit and determination displayed by the MLOPs, doctors and all other staff by not leaving the work place and attending to patients as & when necessary; the bold initiatives undertaken by the Government, the round the clock maintenance of law and order by the police force, the extraordinary efforts by Municipal workers to keep the surroundings clean and prevent spread of diseases have been remarkable. Everyone has stood united to overcome this challenge. It also threw some learning opportunities for all us, which we utilized appropriately. I am sure at the end of this pandemic, when we reflect back, we will be proud that we stood united to overcome this challenge and we are proud as a nation for that.
Dr. D. Datta and Aravind-Theni Team
Theni is one of the districts badly affected by COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu. Normally we receive about 350 outpatients a day. During lockdown, though the hospital was catering only to emergency cases, we receive around 150 patients daily.
New Systems for Patient Care
As in any Aravind centre, Aravind-Theni too took extraordinary measures to ensure safety and health of patients and employees. Importance of maintaining social distancing always is being stressed. Foot controlled soap and water dispensers were fabricated by the staff with available materials sourced from the hospital as well as doctors hostel and provided at the entrance for hands free operation by the patients. Patients need to go through history taking and temperature check right at the entrance. Based on the nature of their eye problems, they will be then directed to the clinics inside. Token system is followed to avoid crowding inside the clinic and make sure that number of patients at a particular time is kept to the minimum. Attenders are not allowed inside the examination area. Instead, they are asked to wait under a tent set up at the entrance. The hospital continues RoP screening following all the safety protocols.
Steps to ensure safety and wellness of staff
Considering the safety of staff, everyone is provided with mask, gloves, face shield and cap depending on the place of work and proximity with patients. To address shortage, masks are reused after decontaminating in the UV decontamination chamber. 40 masks can be sterilised in this manner in about an hour. Since UV decontamination chamber was not available, the team fabricated one using an appropriate sized box from the store, and UV lamp. An automatic “switch off” mechanism was installed to ensure safety of the operating staff in case it was opened accidentally.
Cash collected from patients is collected in a closed box which is then sterilized with formalin Hydrogen per oxide and later deposited in bank.
Doctors work in shifts to attend to the patient load. While one group works from 7.30 am – 1.30 pm, another group takes over from 1.30-4.30pm.
Separate rooms are provided for the MLOPs to maintain social distancing in the hostel. Body temperature is noted for all employees before they start work. Employees also underwent Aurowell check up.
Yoga sessions, academic classes, and awareness lectures on COVID-19 are being regularly conducted for MLOPs. MLOPs also engage in a lot of extracurricular activities – drawing, making art from waste and handicrafts.
A questionnaire for self-assessment of COVID-19 awareness was circulated amongst all staff. Answers were discussed, which helped update knowledge of everyone.
Doctors who are working in the COVID isolation wards of Theni Government Medical College Hospital and quarantined following duty are provided food from the Aravind canteen, as all the restaurants in the district are closed.