Authorities are in a bind with the rising number of doctors, nursing staff and other medical staff at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) being infected with Covid-19.
Several others at the region’s premier health institution have also been quarantined, while questions have come up as to how the medical workers are being infected. The situation has triggered NBMCH authorities to restrict admission of patients at the premier referral hospital in the region.
A 25-year-old house keeping staff, who was in quarantine, tested positive for the virus today. According to NBMCH sources, around 10 doctors, house-keeping staff, interns, nursing staff and technicians have been infected in the past few days.
More than 40, including doctors, interns and nursing staff, have been quarantined, and among them, around 19 are doctors, house staff and nursing staff. “It is a tightrope walk for us.
Positive cases among healthcare providers of several departments at the NBMCH are on the rise, and a significant number of medical staff has been sent for quarantine. Therefore, the authorities have decided to restrict the admission of patients, and will take in only those who are seriously ill, moribund patients, gasping cases.
The outpatient department (OPD) and the labour ward will function normally,” sources at the NBMCH said. In the wake of the Covid- 19 situation, the number of patients, especially indoors, has drastically gone down at the NBMCH. Usually, around 1200 patients are admitted at the hospital.
“The number has gone down to around 400,” said an NBMCH doctor. Some doctors said that most of the medical staff who have been infected had come in contact with positive patients.
“Apart from the NBMCH, they perform duties at the dedicated hospital for Covid-19 patients and also the hospital for suspected cases, where some patients were later found to be positive,” said a doctor.
Meanwhile, a notice issued by the office of the medical superintendent-cum-viceprincipal of the NBMCH, Dr Kausik Samajdar, yesterday said: “A large number of health care workers have gone into quarantine and tested positive for COVID-19 across several departments of this hospital, seriously compromising the availability of health care providers. In view of this grave situation, admission of patients to NBMCH, Darjeeling, will be restricted to seriously ill/moribund /gasping cases only, till further orders.”
An NBMCH doctor said that being a referral hospital, NBMCH caters to several cases from other districts too. The NBMCH dean of student affairs, Dr Sandip Sengupta, said that in view of the present situation, the restrictions on the admission were temporary. “Patients who need emergency medical support will be admitted, and the OPD, surgery, labour wards are open,” Dr Sengupta said.
Ailing newborn gets admitted
As the NBMCH imposed restrictions on the admission of patients, a couple who had reached there all the way from Cooch Behar today for the treatment of their three-day-old child, was in a dilemma after the newborn was denied admission.
Siben Das and Sumitra Das later took the baby to the Siliguri District hospital, which, according to them, expressed inability to treat the child. “A private nursing home at Pradhan Nagar also refused us treatment,” a patient party representative said.
However, government officials, including the Siliguri SDO, Sumant Sahay, and North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh later intervened and had the child admitted in the NBMCH, where doctors have started the child’streatment.
Bista writes to CM
On the other hand, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista has informed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of present crisis at the NBMCH, where he said the common people are being deprived of medical treatment. He has urged her to take appropriate steps.
“Since the past few days, the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital has started to refuse admission to patients who are seriously ill. Today, I am hearing from my constituents that even private hospitals have started to refuse patients in Siliguri and nearby regions, citing shortage of doctors. As such, currently, the Covid hospital in Siliguri under my constituency is catering to six districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and Cooch Behar,”
Mr Bista has said in his letter. “People from the entire North Bengal region will remain forever indebted to you for your kind support and intervention at the earliest,” Mr Bista said.
“Given the acute shortage of Covid care facilities in the region, I am humbly requesting you to kindly request the Ministry of Railways to deploy at least one Isolation Train in all these six districts immediately. Doing so will not only ease the immense pressure currently being felt by health care service providers from Siliguri but also help provide timely health care to those in urgent need,” the MP added.