Private practice closed in Bengal, patients having harrowing time
Two days after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to all doctors across the state to resume private practices in their respective neighbourhoods, majority of private healthcare clinics remained closed owing to unavailability of community physicians on Friday.
Banerjee on Wednesday had appealed to all doctors to continue with private community treatment activities in their respective neighbourhoods so that general patients do not face any hassle in getting immediate medical assistance. She had also appealed to the doctors to see limited number of patients daily so that the social-distancing guidelines are strictly maintained amongst them at their chambers.
The situation turned out to be really confusing for the private medical practitioners as they have raised the issue of health concerns in the time COVID-19 crisis, while attending patients.
"All doctors are after all human beings. They also need to take necessary precautions for their own healthcare. We are confused about how to continue with our medical practices at this crucial juncture following the social-distancing guidelines," said senior doctor Sharaddwat Mukhopadhyay.
He said the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits are not available everywhere and it has to be purchased in bulk only.
"Naturally, a private medical practitioner can't procure a single PPE kit for his own requirement. We have already submitted a proposal to the chief minister for the easy availability of PPE kit at all fair-price medical shops across Bengal at a reasonable rate," Mukhopadhyay said.
Debabrata Chakraborty of Kolkata's Garia said that he has been running from pillar to post for past one month as no doctor's chamber is open in his neighbourhood. The problem is also the same with Ananda Kumar Chattopadhyay of Howrah's Botanical Garden area.
"I am suffering from acute tooth ache for over last one month. Since the doctor's chamber is closed in my neighbourhood I am only surviving on pain-killers. The local dentist is not opening his chamber since the lockdown began," said Chattopadhyay.
Many private medical chambers and poly clinics in areas like Girish Park, Burrahbazar and various neighbourhoods of Kolkata were seen closed on Friday.
Meanwhile, the state health department on Thursday issued a strict guideline to all hospitals and nursing homes saying that they cannot refuse any patient from admission and ask for any prior certificate determining if the patient was suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.
"There is no exact guideline for the community physicians on how to sanitise private chambers and attend patients at the time of COVID-19 crisis. If a Corona patient comes to see a doctor, there is a chance that the infection may spread amongst other patients at the chamber. The doctor him can get affected too," said Suddhoswattyo Chattopadhyay, a practicing doctor.
Chattopadhyay said that he is now attending his patients through video conferencing on his phone. "I cannot open chambers now. So I am trying to help them out through an android application on my phone. I am giving medical tips to 20 such patients over phone daily," he added.
West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha on Thursday evening said the state-formed COVID death audit committee evaluated 105 deaths so far, of which 33 deaths were found directly caused by corona virus. He said the remaining 72 deaths were due to comorbidities where COVID-19 was also incidentally found. Sinha said fresh 37 COVID-19 positive cases were reported only from Kolkata, Howrah, North 24-Parganas and Hooghly districts.