Fear, transport, viability keep clinics shut in Calcutta
Several clinics and diagnostic facilities in the heart of the city are still shut and a few are planning to open from Monday but only for emergency patients.
Fear among some doctors of getting infected by Covid-19, problems faced by some employees in reaching the clinics because of the lockdown and apprehensions that it might not be possible to ensure social distancing are some of the reasons why clinics are shut.
The clinics are important for patients who do not need to go all the way to hospital for consultation with doctors, follow-ups and small emergencies and procedures such as tooth extraction.
But many clinics run by private hospitals, which have been closed since the lockdown was enforced in the last week of March, are yet to open.
Fortis Medical Centre on Sarat Bose Road near Minto Park, among others, will reopen on Monday, according to officials. But only emergency cases will be handled for the time being, they said.
“We had a meeting with senior doctors last Wednesday. They urged us to resume operations. Accordingly, we have made arrangements but we will try to avoid routine cases and treat only emergency ones,” Gurvinder Singh, facility director of Fortis Medical Centre, said. The clinic is run by the Fortis Hospital and Kidney Institute.
Singh said doctors would not be able to see patients at a stretch for more than two hours after wearing personal protective equipment.
The centre has ophthalmology and dentistry units. Doctors have to be close to patients to examine them. Officials said many doctors would be apprehensive about checking patients.
At Bengal Oncology Center near Deshapriya Park in south Calcutta, doctors are apprehensive that they would not be able to maintain social distancing norms in the small space.
“Ideally, now a patient should be accompanied by one person. But in case of cancer patients, four to five people accompany one patient, given their critical condition. It could be difficult to enforce social distancing norms,” Gautam Mukhopadhyay, surgical oncologist and director, Bengal Oncology Centre, said.
The centre has a footfall of 80-100 people every day.
Others said viability, too, was a problem, along with the matter of employees being unable to reach the clinic for want of transport.
At RN Tagore Lansdowne Clinic on Sarat Bose Road, the daily footfall used to be 50. “Now, because of social distancing and given the small space of the clinic, we can have barely 10 patients… so, it will not be viable at the moment,” R. Venkatesh, director, eastern region, Narayana Health, which runs the clinic, said. “Now, we are focusing on our hospitals and patients can come to the OPD.”