Cooper hospital isolation ward remains open to all

Updated: May 23, 2020, 07:22 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Doctors say relatives of patients undergoing treatment for COVID-19 flutter in and out of isolation ward with minimal protective gear and mingle with high-risk patients

Relatives of patients can be seen happily strolling about in the ward at RN Cooper Hospital, Juhu, with no protective gear
Relatives of patients can be seen happily strolling about in the ward at RN Cooper Hospital, Juhu, with no protective gear

The isolation ward of BMC-run R N Cooper Hospital in Juhu could be a "potential hotspot" for COVID-19 cases, say doctors who have been treating high-risk patients here. Located on the sixth floor of the hospital, the ward barely sees any social distancing being followed by patients' relatives who walk in and out of the ward wearing minimal protective gear, bring food for patients, sit on the patient's bed, and feed them.

The ward, which has been functional for two months, has doctors on duty for approximately a week, following which they are relieved and resume other duties at the hospital for a fortnight. Doctors usually work in pairs and in eight-hour shifts at the isolation ward. According to a doctor at the hospital, there are 120 beds in the isolation ward, of which at least 80-90 are occupied by active COVID-19 patients. "The remaining patients are in the suspected category," the doctor told mid-day. "The isolation ward is safe for doctors, but not for relatives of patients. We are always wearing our PPE while the relatives wear minimal protective gear," the doctor said, adding that certain regulations need to be strictly enforced.

"Relatives should not be inside, outside, or even on the same floor as the isolation ward. They are healthy humans, and if they go about meeting and interacting with patients, it could be dangerous," said the doctor, also pointing to the fact that a suspected COVID-19 patient was recently admitted to the isolation ward. His test results were negative but he was in the same ward as positive patients.

Will rectify problem soon

Dr Pinakin Gujjar, dean of R N Cooper Municipal General Hospital, said: "The relatives of patients are ideally not supposed to enter the isolation ward at all. We know there is a problem; it's because the person who was the head of our security is currently in quarantine. Security lapses happen because relatives want to give the patients food, or help them go to the toilet. I have requested for eight multipurpose workers to help us out in this respect. We will take necessary steps henceforth."

'Absolutely scared'

A patient who was recovering from COVID-19 in the isolation ward at Cooper Hospital told mid-day, "I was absolutely scared. Some relatives were even massaging patients for relief, all without proper protection. They were simply wearing a cotton mask. When they go back home and visit local stores, they could be potential carriers."

"Doctors and nurses were constantly screaming at patients' relatives to exit the isolation ward, but some relatives were straight-up bullies and used to turn aggressive," he said.

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