New Delhi: A screening area will be set up at the AIIMS here to identify and segregate patients having symptoms of influenza-like illness and COVID-19 before they are referred to the OPD as the hospital gears up to resume out-patient department services in a phased manner, officials said. According to the AIIMS Chief Spokesperson Dr Aarti Vij, the premier hospital is in the process of modifying OPDs in view of COVID-19. Preparations are in full-swing for setting up a screening OPD to identify and segregate patients having influenza-like-illness and COVID-19 suspects before they are sent to the main OPD, she said.
This is being done from the point of view of taking all possible infection control measures to prevent any spread of infection to non-COVID patients and healthcare workers. Steps are also being taken towards ensuring good air circulation. Since we are modifying the OPDs, it will require few more days, Dr Vij said.
It has been close to a month that the AIIMS has shut down its OPD services and curtailed all elective surgeries as part of its effort towards redirecting its resources to control the COVID-19 outbreak. The hospital has also constituted a committee to devise a strategy for restoring healthcare services in a phased manner, Dr Vij said.
A large proportion of manpower and patient care facilities are being dedicated for managing COVID-19 patients. Besides the AIIMS Trauma Centre has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital and the NCI Jhajjar also is treating coronavirus infected patients.
Doctors at AIIMS are currently providing tele-consultation to all follow-up patients in an effort to reduce the need for them to visit the facility during the lockdown. Around 1000 tele-consultations are being provided per day in different departments in total and these figures are going up, Dr Vij said.
The COVID-19 National Tele-consultation Centre (CoNTeC) at AIIMS, New Delhi has handled over 4,500 calls that includes calls for COVID-19 related queries, tele-consultation calls by doctors and calls for appointments. The CoNTeC phone number (+91 9115444155) can be dialled from anywhere in the country/world for OPD appointments and also used as a public helpline.
Besides, around 44,000 mails from across the country have been responded to through the dedicated email ID (email@example.com) to clarify any doubts in the minds of the general public pertaining to any technical aspect of COVID-19, Dr Vij said. An AIIMS sub-committee earlier was asked to prepare a blueprint for smooth restoration of OPD and non-emergency surgery services.
The chief of Centres and Heads of Departments at AIIMS were asked to give an estimate of how many cases they can handle in a day if it has to be restarted. The OT teams were also asked to finalise and draw a blueprint on how non-emergency surgeries will be conducted keeping in mind that some operation theatres are reserved for suspected COVID-19 patients in the main OT area of the hospital.
At present hospital services have been curtailed as part of the government strategy to fight COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in its history, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here shut down its OPD services, including speciality, and all new and follow-up registrations from March 24. The AIIMS had also issued a circular postponing all nonessential elective procedures and surgeries and directed that only emergency life-saving surgeries be conducted with effect from March 21.